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The dynasty founded by king K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo' ruled the city for four centuries and included sixteen kings plus a probable pretender who would have been seventeenth in line.
Several monuments have survived that were dedicated by K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo' and by his heir.
The fertile Copán River valley was long a site of agriculture before the first known stone architecture was built in the region about the 9th century BC.
The city was important before its refounding by a foreign elite; mentions of the predynastic history of Copán are found in later texts, but none of these predates the refounding of the city in AD 426.
It is estimated that the peak population in central Copán was between 60 in an area of 0.6 square kilometers (0.23 sq mi), with a further 9,000 to 12,000 inhabitants occupying the periphery—an area of 23.4 square kilometers (9.0 sq mi).
Additionally, there was an estimated rural population of 3,000 to 4,000 in a 476-square-kilometer (184 sq mi) area of the Copán Valley, giving an estimated total population of 18,000 to 25,000 people in the valley during the Late Classic period.
A text from Tikal mentions K'uk' Mo' and has been dated to AD 406, 20 years before K'uk' Mo' Ajaw founded the new dynasty at Copán.
It was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD.
Copán is located in western Honduras close to the border with Guatemala.
Copán lies within the municipality of Copán Ruinas in the department of Copán.
Texts record the arrival of a warrior named K'uk' Mo' Ajaw who was installed upon the throne of the city in AD 426 and given a new royal name, K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo' and the ochk'in kaloomte "Lord of the West" title used a generation earlier by Siyaj K'ak', a general from the great metropolis of Teotihuacan who had decisively intervened in the politics of the central Petén.
K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo' was probably from Tikal and was likely to have been sponsored by Siyaj Chan K'awill II, the 16th ruler in the dynastic succession of Tikal.
Little is known of the rulers of Copán before the founding of a new dynasty with its origins at Tikal in the early 5th century AD, although the city's origins can be traced back to the Preclassic period.