At Copán in Honduras—site of an important city-state during the Maya Classical Period—project work continued with activities aimed at developing a conservation strategy for the site's hieroglyphic stairway. At 10 meters wide by 24 meters high, the stairway is composed of 63 steps with over 2,000 carved glyphs that recount centuries of Copán dynasty history.

conservation image

In July 2003 the GCI assisted its project partner, the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia (IHAH), in planning the construction of an access stairway to replace the temporary wooden one constructed in 2000. The installation of netting around two sides of the stairway was also designed to test the effectiveness of such a system in preventing the accumulation of leaves on the monument. Leaf removal has been required frequently in the past; finding a way to avoid the need for IHAH personnel to walk on the stairway and brush its surfaces would be an important improvement in its maintenance. This recent campaign also provided the opportunity for GCI project staff to meet the new director of IHAH, Margarita Duron de Galvez, on site and to update her on the progress of the project.

GCI project conservators continued working with IHAH personnel to perform treatment trials on selected blocks of the stairway. This effort included trials of different pigments as additives to lime mortars in order to obtain suitable color matches for the variety of stone colors found on the stairway. Trials were also conducted with both lime and silica sol–based grouts for treating areas of surface detachment and flaking. The complete conservation treatment of selected stairway blocks continued, focusing on the removal of acrylic resin from stone surfaces previously treated to prevent surface loss in past decades.