Did Mesoamerican temples really symbolize sacred mountains? If so, what accounts for their varying forms across space and time? Through a socio-historical and iconographic approach, it is now becoming possible to explain the social and historical factors for why design in ancient Maya temples varied. Using these methods, this paper reconstructs and reinterprets one famous “sacred mountain” in the Maya region: Temple 22, at Copan, Honduras, dedicated by king Waxaklajuun Ub'aah K'awiil in a.d. 715. Since 1998, the author has led a project to conserve, document, analyze, and hypothetically reconstruct thousands of sculptures from the building's collapsed façades. In design and symbolism, the building probably represented not just a mountain, but the Maya universe. In its more specific historical context, Temple 22 was designed as royal rhetoric to affirm order at a disorderly moment, and used both traditional and innovative forms to assert Copan's leading role on the boundary of the Maya world.