In September 2000 at the Maya site of Copán in Honduras, the Getty Conservation Institute gathered experts from a variety of fields to analyze the condition of the extraordinary hieroglyphic stairway on the site, to develop a plan for further research, and to make preliminary recommendations for the stairway's conservation. The GCI is working with the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia (IHAH) on developing the conservation plan for the eighth-century stairway, which records two centuries of dynastic rule at Copán.
The September meeting followed a photographic survey of the stairway, conducted in June and July. A condition survey of the stairway, which began in the summer of 2000, is still under way. The purpose of the survey is to gather the precise data required to provide a condition evaluation, to create a basis for site monitoring, and to guide an intervention strategy.
The objectives of the meeting included discussing the probable causes of decay of the stairway; defining a strategy for further scientific analysis of materials, decay products, and microbiological and plant growth; and discussing potential conservation solutions and options for presentation of the stairway.
The work at Copán is part of the GCI's Maya Initiative, which focuses on advancing regional conservation practice and collaboration among the countries of the area.