Although none of the hieroglyphic texts that mention the founding of the new Copán dynasty describe how K'uk' Mo' arrived at the city, indirect evidence suggests that he conquered the city by military means.
An event at Copán is linked to another event that happened 208 days before in AD 159 at an unknown location that is also mentioned on a stela from Tikal, suggesting that it is a location somewhere in the Petén Basin, possibly the great Preclassic Maya city of El Mirador.
This AD 159 date is mentioned in several texts and is linked to a figure known as "Foliated Ajaw".
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.
although it suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of its former vassal state Quirigua in 738, when the long-ruling king Uaxaclajuun Ub'aah K'awiil was captured and beheaded by Quirigua's ruler K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat (Cauac Sky).
The area of Copán continued to be occupied after the last major ceremonial structures and royal monuments were erected, but the population declined in the 8th and 9th centuries from perhaps over 20,000 in the city to less than 5,000.
This decrease in population took over four centuries to actually show signs of collapse, showing the stability of this site even after the fall of the ruling dynasties and royal families.
This same person is mentioned on the carved skull of a peccary recovered from Tomb 1, where he is said to perform an action with a stela in AD 376.
This coup was apparently organized and launched from Tikal.
The city was located in the extreme southeast of the Mesoamerican cultural region, on the frontier with the Isthmo-Colombian cultural region, and was almost surrounded by non-Maya peoples.
Copán was occupied for more than two thousand years, from the Early Preclassic period to the Postclassic.
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).