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3 134 90
4 100 94
5 94 129
9 57 69
R.A. h. m.
of the dark lines relatively to the corresponding bright ones and ear method, the clock beats have to be taken into account gave a mean of 183 tenth-metres. According to this, the simultaneously with the relative positions of the star and certain relative motion of the two bodies engaged was about 820 miles wires. In the April number of the Bulletin Astronomique, a second. Mr. Maunder also observed the visual spectrum of an account is given of some experimental researches on such the Nova. Three bright lines were seen, and estimated to be in transit determinacions in which both methods, the eye and ear the positions of C, D, and F of the solar spectrum. A line was and the chronograph, were used. The observations were made detected “not far from E," another “near 6, but further towards with an apparatus similar to that designed by Wolf, who, to the blue,” and another “very near the chief nebular line.” obtain artificial transits, employed a small truck to carry the The line measured on the photograph as at 1 4919 was also plates, on which punctures of different sizes were made. From made out.
115 observations made with both methods, it was found that
equally accurate results were obtained, the eye and ear method, PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE REGION of Nova CYGNI.-At the if any, proving a little inferior, while the degree of lighting of March meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mr. Roberts the field made no appreciable variation on the personal equastated the results of a comparison of Crs. Copeland and Lohse's tion. For planets the electrical method showed that personality catalogue and chart of the region of Nova Cygni with two varied considerably, according to whether the preceding or fol. photographs of the same part of the heavens taken in Sep lowing side was observed : the resulting personal equation for tember 1891. It appears that the brightness of some of the the centre of a planet turned out to be - 0046s., while that for stars has undergone changes since 1878, when the chart was a star under the same conditions was to '023s. It would be made. Changes of this character may, of course, be due to the interesting to find out whether this occurs when the eye and ear well-known difference between visual and photographic magni- | method is employed. The tendency of an observer, adopting tudes; but there are other differences, which are not so easily the eye and ear method, to choose certain tenths of a second in explained. Several stars, single on the chart, are seen to be preference to others, seems to have its analogy in the chronodouble on the photographs, and some changes in relative posi- graph method, in the linear measurement from the second imtion seem to have occurred. Although the Nova is not given on pressions. A comparison given here shows that the most the chart, it appears on the photographs as a star of about favourable tenth is the zero, while the nine is very considerably magnitude 13. It will be interesting to compare Mr. Roberts's left out in the cold. Another very curious fact is that the tenths, pictures with others taken under similar conditions at some one, two, three, four, chosen in the chronograph methods, future date, in order to determine definitely whether the changes are all less than the corresponding ones in the other methods, are real, or due to errors in observation or cataloguing.
while the opposite occurs for the tenths five to nine. WINNECKE's Comer.—Dr. G. F. Haerdt gives the follow
Eye and Ear ing ephemeris in Astronomische Nachrichten, No. 3083:- Chronograph .. 164 79 96
104 94 1892.
The Sirius SYSTEM.-Dr. A. Auwers contributes to the April 29 II 36 4:49 +43 55 41'3
Astronomische Nachrichten, Nos. 3084 and 3085, a long dis. 30 34 22.64
cussion with reference to our 44 2 136
Knowledge of the Sirius System.” May 1 32 42'41
2:38 The problem which he undertook was to investigate whether 31 3.89 13 25-6
the measures of the companion obtained during the period 3 29 27'21 18 6:3
extending from 1862 to 1890 would satisfy an ellipse with a 4 27 52:46 22 119
49-4 year revolution ; to determine the most probable value of 5 26 19-62 25 434 271
the place elements for every measurement on the assumption of 24 48.66
the revolution; and to inquire whether the observations of the 7 23 10:55
principal star could be represented by means of the so 8 21 52'27 33 36
determined elements. The author divides the discussion into 9 20 26.81
the following three parts :-(1) A summation and sifting of all 19 3'16 35 233
the measures that have been made of this companion for the 17 41'31 35 50'0
above mentioned period. (2) The derivation of the normal 16 21:18 35 496
places, and the correction of the elements. (3) A comparison 13
35 22:5 3'58 of the meridian observations of Sirius with the elements derived 14 13 45.59 34 29'4
from the measurements of the companion. The result of the 15 12 29.98 33 II2
discussion is that a slight correction is necessary to reduce the 16 11 15872 31 28-7
right ascension and declination of the bright star to the 17 10 2.63 29 229 4:17
centre of gravity of the two bodies (the masses of the chief star 18
and of the companion being taken as 2'200 and 1040). 19 7 39'29 24 52
The table showing these corrections indicates that the right 20 53:7
ascension between the years 1850 and 1890 has to be in5 10'08 17 214 4'91
creased by a quantity which reaches to 0'2325., while between 4 9:48 13 29'0
1890 and 1896 5 a diminution takes place. The greatest 23 2 59.99 9 174
correction for the declination is + 2".268, which occurs in I 50:50 4 478
1882'o, and this correction becomes negative also about 1893.5.
43 54 553
THE ANCIENT CIVILIZATION OF
IN Central America there are abundant traces of the existence 25 25'2
of a great race which must at one time have attained to a PERSONAL EQUATIONS IN TRANSIT OBSERVATIONS.—An comparatively high state of culture. It was undoubtedly a race accurate determination of an observer's personal equation is of American Indians, and as undoubtedly closely connected to-day of as much importance as an observation itself, when such with the present Indian inhabitants of the country. small quantities, as we now deal with, have to be measured. No trace, however, of the ancient culture and knowledge The variation in the latitude, of which we have heard so much can be found amongst the Indians of to-day, and the numerous of late, amounts to a quantity only a few times larger than that ruins which lie scattered over the country are the remains of of a moderate personal equation, showing that no small regard towns which have neither names nor history attached to them. must be paid to its estimation. In observing an N.P.D., the star Very little information can be gathered from the published has to be bisected by the horizontal wire, while the nadir point writings of the Spaniards who overran the country at the close of has also to be observed : in both these cases an error can arise the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth centuries ; but, apart from personality, for the best observers cannot make a really from their bearings on Spanish history and biography, these true bisection. In the taking of transits another personality writings have received very imperfect examination and criticism. exists, but this is rather of a different kind, for, using the eye The Spaniards have been severely censured for their remiss
ness in omitting to record the wonders of the Indian civilization which they are supposed to have met with, and especially for having failed to tell us about the towns and highly decorated buildings the ruins of which have been frequently described by modern travellers ; but this censure appears to be to a great extent unmerited, for their writings, if carefully searched, do reveal a considerable amount of information about the Indians as they found them, and they failed to describe the ancient buildings because, as I hope to prove later, in many cases these buildings were even then as deeply buried in the recesses of the forests as they are at the present day.
We naturally want to know more about this lost civilization, and there are many ways of attacking the problem. First of all, there is a large amount of correspondence, and a great number of reports written by the soldiers, officials, ecclesiastics, and other early settlers in the New World, which, not bearing on the main historical events of the conquest, have escaped publication, but which, if carefully examined, may afford valu
well as some original stone carvings, are now exhibited in the Architectural Court of the Museum. Maps, plans, photographs, and drawings, are in course of publication in the archæologi a section of the “ Biologia Centrali-Americana.".
The Editor of this journal has asked me to give some general account of the work on which I have been engaged, and its results, and this I will now attempt to do; but I must ask the reader to bear in mind that I started on the work almost by chance, and without any previous training or archæological knowledge, that I am but little acquainted with the literature of the subject, and have almost entirely confined my efforts to the collection of accurate copies of sculptures and inscriptions, in hope that some students may be found willing to make use of them. The following notes must therefore not be looked on as anything more than an attempt to clear the ground before an attack which I hope some day to see inade on a difficult problem.
The remains of the more civilized races of North America
able information regarding the native Indians. Then a study of the customs, languages, and folk-lore of the living races, may throw much light upon the condition and belief of their forerunners; and, above all, a careful examination of the burialplaces and of the architectural and monumental remains, and their numerous hieroglyphic inscriptions, which lie hidden away in the vast forests, may reveal something of the history of the people who raised them.
It has been my good fortune to be able to devote my time during seven winters to the collection of materials which I trust may enable the study of Central American archæology to be pursued with greater ease and success than has hitherto been possible.
All the moulds of inscriptions and other sculptures made during my expeditions have been handed over by me to the authorities of the South Kensington Museum, and casts have already been taken from the greater number of them, which, as
can be traced from the Isthmus of Panama as far north as the ruined Pueblos in the Cañons of Colorado. This great extent of country can again be roughly divided into three portionsone extending
from Colorado to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a second from Tehuantepec to a line running nearly along the western frontiers of Honduras and Salvador, which may be called the Maya district, and a third from this line to the Isthmus of Panama.
So far as I know, no remains of stone buildings have been found in this last district, but much pottery is found some of which is distinguished by great beauty of form, as well as excellence of decoration.
It is in the centre province, which includes Guatemala, Chiapas, Tabasco, and Yucatan, that my collections have been made, and the accompanying map shows the most important ruins visited.
It is impossible within the compass of an article, and
without the aid of numerous plans and drawings, to give an Spain, giving an account of this expedition, he states in the adequate account of the ruins as they can now be seen, but the preface that :-“ To determine the spots visited by himn in this following short summary gives the characteristics of the prin extraordinary march through almost impenetrable forests, cipal groups found to the south of Yucatan :
swampy plains, or losty mountains, has by some writers been Quirigua.- Thirteen monoliths covered with elaborate carved pronounced a hopeless task; and though we possess the narrative decoration and inscriptions. These are of two classes, upright of the stout-hearted and sturdy soldier, Bernal Diaz, who tormed stelæ, of which sıx still stand erect, the tallest measuring part of the expedition and carefully noted down its principal 25 feet high from the ground, 5 feet across back and front, and
events; though the various provinces traversed by the devoted 4 feet across the sides, and large rounded blocks of stone cut army have since been more or less explored by travellers of all into the form of some grotesque animal, the largest of them nations, few are the indications—and those very slight-of the weighing about 20 tons. No buildings remain standing, but route they followed. He must have passed near the ruins of there are numerous mounds, only one of which has been dug Palenque, since the small village of Las Tres Cruzes is said to into, and was found to contain on its summit the ground-work derive its name from three wooden crosses left in that locality." of a stone-built temple.
A comparison of the recent and more accurate maps of Ta. Copan. —Sixteen stelæ averaging 12 feet in height, of which basco published by the Mexican Government, and of my own eight are now standing, and numerous other sculptured monu- surveys in the region of the head waters of the Sarstoon and
Both figures and inscriptions are carved in higher Mopan Rivers, with certain old maps and documents which have relief than at Quirigua. Numerous stone-faced mounds, which recently been brought to light from the Archives of the Indies can be ascended by well-laid stone stairways. There is no at Seville, now enables us to trace Cortes's line of march with sign of a wall either of house or temple above ground, but the some degree of accuracy. lower parts of both temples and houses can be found by digging After passing the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, he found himself into the masses of broken masonry on the tops of the mounds involved in the intricate waterways of the delta of the Tabasco and terraces. Broken stone ornaments, which once decorated and Grijalra Rivers. He and his followers suffered the greatest these buildings, are found lying in profusion at the foot of the hardships, but after cutting their way through the tangled vegemounds.
tation of the swamps, and with infinite patience and labour Menché. A town built on stone-faced terraces rising one building bridges over the almost innumerable streams and above the other from the banks of the River Usumacinta. There lagoons, he crossed the River Csumacinta, somewhere in the are many mounds of stone, and there are a few stone-roofed neighbourhood of Tenusique. houses and temples still standing with carved stone lintels over There can be no doubt that towards the end of this part of the doorways. "No separate carved monolithic monuments of this march, at a time when Cortes and his followers, lost in the importance.
forests of the delta, were suffering the last extremities of hunger, Tikal.— Five cell-like temples with enormously thick walls, and were eagerly searching for a track which might lead them raised on pyramidal foundations of great height. The measure- to an Indian seitlement-they were traversing a plain actually ment of the largest, from the ground to the top of the temple, is overlooked by the temples of Palenque, and not more, and probabout 160 ft., the base of the foundation measuring about 280 ft. ably much less, than twenty miles distant from them. ir Palenque square. These temples had beautifully carved wooden lintels over had then been the great centre which it at one time must have the doorways. Some of this carved wood is now preserved in the been, and if the foot-hills of the Sierra on which it stands had Museum at Basie, and some (a few smaller pieces) in the British then been as thickly peopled as the numerous remains indicate, Museum. There are several other smaller temples and numerous it would have been impossible for a body of men as numerous houses with stone roofs still standing. All these buildings had and as much on the alert as were the followers of Cortes, to wooden lintels over the doorways, and some of the wooden have missed the discovery of the many tracks which must have beams are in a perfect state of preservation. There are seven or
led thither. eight small stelæ, usually fat slabs of stone with carving on the Moreover, Cortes bad been furnished with a map of the front and sides only, all unfortunately much damaged and country, prepared by the Indian chiess at Guacacualco; and weather-word.
although it has been suggested that the chiefs systematically Palenque.-One group of stone-roofed houses, commonly deceived him so as to prevent his visiting their richest and most known as the palace, raised on a high stone-faced foundation. sacred towns, such deception was not likely to have been suc. Four separate temples, on similar foundations, and numerous
cessful with him, and it is still less likely to have imposed upon other temples, houses, and tombs, some half-ruined, and others the large number of Mexican Indians who accompanied him. mere heaps of stone and rubbish. Only one carved monolith Yet, it Palenque was then inhabited, we are compelled either has been found which stood apart, but several large stone slabs
to believe thai Cortes and his followers were indeed successfully beautifully carved with figures and inscriptions in low relief imposed upon, or to give credit to the still more unlikely alter. were let into the interior walls of the temples, and almost all native that the Indian auxiliaries preferred to suffer such the buildings have been lavishly ornamented with figures and extremities of hunger that they were driven to eat the bodies of inscriptions moulded in a hard and durable stucco.
their companions who had died by the way, rather than give The principal fact ascertained from the examination of the any information which would have been of service to their remains throughout this district (including Yucatan) is that the foreign leaders. art as exemplified both by monuments and buildings is one and It hardly appears possible, therefore, to resist the conclusion the same, and that the inscriptions are all carved in the same that, in the year 1525, Palenque was already abandoned, and characters.
lost in the forest. The chief difference to be noted is that whereas in the ruins But if the information afforded to Cortes is to be relied on, which I assume to be of earlier date the art and workmanship then the same fate must also have overtaken the town of Menché is lavished on the decoration of large monoliths, whilst the on the Usumacinta, for Cortes was strongly advised by the temples and other buildings are comparatively insignificant, as natives not to continue his march along the banks of the river time went on the elaborate carving of separate stone monuments (and if he had done so he must have passed near the site of was neglected, and the whole efforts of ihe artists were devoted the ruins of Menché), as the country in that direction was to the erection and adornment of larger and more imposing uninhabited. buildings, and the carved stone glyphs of the monoliths gradu. Accepting this advice, Cortes took the road by Acalá and ally gave way to stucco and painted inscriptions on the walls of Peten, and thence through part of what is now British Honduras, the temples and to manuscript books.
to the mouth of the Rio Dulce. The age to be ascribed to these remains is purely a matter of The inhabitants of Acalá appear to have been more civilized conjecture ; but there are some historical facts which bear on the than any others whom Cories met with during his lorg march. subject which I have already called attention to in another He states that the country was thickly peopled, and that the publication, but which may with advantage be here repeated. towns were large and full of mosques or idol-houses , yet no
Hernando Cortes, after the conquest of Mexico, started from important ruins have ever been found ir that district, and that city in the year 1525, accompanied by some hundreds of neither Cortes nor Bernal Diaz gives us any description which Spaniards and a large number of Indians, with the intention of would lead us to suppose that they ever met with such imposing marching direct to Honduras. When Señor Don Pascual de buildings as those still standing at Palenque or Menché. Gayangos, in the year 1867, translated for publication by the From Acalá the expedition marched through a very thinly. Hakluyt Society the letter written by Cortes to Philip i I. of peopled country until they arrived at the Lake of Peten.
Cortes visited the town of Tayasal, built on a small island in Dulce, it was only to find the Spanish colony it had come in the lake, which, we are told, was the chief town of the district, search of reduced to a similar extremity of famine. and which was doubtless then, as it was later, the stronghold of The scanty Indian population in the neighbourhood had been the warlike Itzaes. Now, fortunately, we know something of rendered hostile by ihe exactions of the settlers, and it was the subsequent history of this town, for Tayasal was visited by immediately necessary to scour the country for long distances in missionaries from Yucatan in 1618, 1619, and 1623. This last search of food. The most important of these raids, and, indeed, missionary expedition ended disastrously, as the missionary and the only successful one, was led by Cortes himself, who landed his followers were murdered by the natives ; and we then have on the south side of the Golfo Dulce, and marched about two but scanty information about the Itzaes until the country was leagues inland (when he must have been within about twelve to invaded by the Spaniards from Yucatan, and Tayasal captured fifteen miles of the site of the ruins of Quirigua), and then in 1697. A curious story shows us that Tayasal is not likely to turned along the mountain-range to the south of the Rio Polo. have suffered any serious disturbance between Cortes's visit and chic, and finally succeeded in reaching Chacujal, which is situ. the year 1618.
ated between two small streams which run into the Polochic. In his letter to the King he states that, “ At this village, or, The inhabitants had all fled, but Cortes was fortunate in finding rather, at the plantations that were close to the lake, I was a large store of Indian corn, and other food. obliged to leave one of my horses, owing to his having got a Cortes writes of the town as follows :—“Marching through splinter in his foot. The Chief promised to take care of the the place we arrived at the great square, where they had animal and cure him, but I do not know if he will succeed, or their mosques and houses of worship, and as we saw the what he will do with him.”
mosques and buildings round them just in tbe manner and On the day after the arrival of the missionary fathers Fuen. form of those at Culua " (on the coast of Mexico), "we were salida and Orbita, in 1618, the Chief of the Itzaes showed them more overawed and astonished than we had been hitherto, since round the town, "in the middle of which, on the rising ground, nowhere since we had left Acalá had we seen such signs of were numerous and large buildings, cues' or oratories of their policy and power. ... On the following morning I sent out devilish and false gods. Entering into one of them, they saw several parties of men to explore the village, which was well in the centre of it a large idol in the form of a horse, well designed, the houses well built, and close to each other." I can modelled in stone and plaster. It was seated on the ground, on find no record whatever of Chacujal subsequent to the date of its baunches.
Cortes's visit ; but in 1884 I myself visited the ruins of the town, " These barbarians reverenced it as the God of Thunder, and guided by Cortes's own description of the site. The ruins are called it Tzimindiac, which means the horse of thunder and now completely buried in the forest, but there was little difficulty lightning.'
in tracing the general plan of the town, and making out the This sight was too much for the religious zeal of Padre foundations of the principal buildings. Orbita, who, seizing a great stone, jumped on to the idol and It is easy to understand how Cortes may have been favourably hammered it to pieces. It is hardly necessary to add that the impressed with the flourishing appearance of the place after his Chief had the greatest difficulty in saving the lives of the mis- terrible and tedious journey through the forest, yet it is quite sionaries from his infuriated people, and that they were compelled clear from the ruins that the structures themselves could never to leave the island at once.
have been of any considerable importance. The walls of the It was afterwards learnt from the natives that they had thought principal buildings had only been built of stone to half their the horse to be the god of thunder and lightning because they height, and the superstructure and roof must have been made of had seen the Spaniards firing their guns from horseback, and some perisbable material-a great contrast to the thick stone that when they found the horse to be ill, “they gave it to eat walls and heavy stone roofs at Palenque, Tikal, Menché, and fowls and other meat, and presented it with garlands of Powers, Copan. Another point of importance is that the plan and as it was their custom to do when their own chiefs were ailing, method of construction of the buildings at Chacujal is similar to and that, on its death, a council of chiestains was called, and it that of the ruins on the hill-tops a little further inland near San resolved to make an image of the horse in stone.
Jeronimo, Rabinal, and Cubulco, some of which I have visited. In the year 1700, the historian Villagutieres published a de- These were undoubtedly the strongholds of those Indians of the tailed account of the conquest of Itza by the Spaniards, and a Tierra de Guerra to whom no high culture has ever been description of the town of Tayasal, stating that it was full of attributed, and who were induced by the Padre Las Casas to houses, some with stone walls more than a yard high, and, above leave their fastnesses and settle in the plain of Rabinal in the these, wooden beams and roofs of thatch, and others of wood year 1537 and thatch only”; and " of the twenty-one oratories which It can therefore now be stated without doubt that, although General Ursua found in the island, the principal and largest Cortes and his followers on his march from Mexico to Honduras was that of the high priest Quincanek, cousin of the king passed within a short distance of several of the sites of the most Canek; this was rectangular (cuadrada), with a beautiful important ruins in Central America, they heard nothing of their breastwork (pretil) and nine handsome steps, and each front existence as living cities. was about twenty yards long and very high.
Let us now consider the case of the osten-described ruins of Speaking from memory, I should say that the island is not Copan on the northern frontier of Honduras. more than 500 yards across, and there are no s gns whatever at The earliest information dates back to the year 1576, when the the present time of any ancient foundations. It is now covered with ruins were visited by Palacio del Rio, who described ibem in a poorly-built adobe houses, and in the centre is a church, which letter written to King Philip II. of Spain. After giving an probably occupies the site of the ancient cues.' Now, within account of the sculptured monoliths, he mentions the numerous a day's walk from the north shore of the lake are the very mounds which could be ascended by stone stairways, but he says remarkable ruins of Tikal, of which a short description has nothing whatever about houses or temples, which such a careful already been given ; yet nothing whatever is told us either by observer as Palacio could not have omitted to mention had they Cortes, by the missionaries, or by Villagutieres, of the existence then been in existence. He further staies in his letter that it of a town on this site, and the ruins were unknown to the was impossible to believe that the scanty Indian population of Spaniards until the year 1848.
the districts could have raised such monuments as he found at The missionaries, on their journeys from the Spanish outpost Copan, and that his efforts to elicit information from the leaders at Tipu to Tayasal must have passed within a few miles of the of the Indians dwelling in the neighbourhood only showed that site of the ruins; and it is impossible to believe that, so long all knowledge of the people who had raised these monuments as Tikal was inhabited, Tayasal could have been the chief was lost in the mists of tradition. town of the district, or, indeed, that Tikal could have been Enough has now been said to show that the most important ruins inhabited at all without the fact coming to the knowledge of the in the whole of this Maya district (outside of Yucatan) were never Spaniards.
known to the Spaniards as the sites of inhabited towns, and it If any further evidence were needed to show that the great now remains to say only a few more words about those towns in structures raised during the epoch of higher civilization had which the conquerors actually found the people dwelling. The already been deserted at the time of the Spanish conquest, it descriptions already quoted from early writers, or given from my can be found in what Cortes himself states with regard to the own observations of the ruins in the cases of Tayasal and town in Guatemala which he calls Chacujal.
Chacujal, give some idea of what these towns were like ; and When, after having crossed the base of the peninsula of the correciness of these descriptions is strengthened by the Yucatan, the starving army arrived at the mouth of the Rio results of a careful examination which I have made of the sites of the towns of Utatlan and Iximché, the capitals of the Quichés to me to be supported by any sufficient evidence. Nevertheless, and Cachiquels, who were the most powerful tribes in Guatemala religious ceremonies had been so recently observed in Chichén when Alvarado conquered the country. Although the remains of Itza, that, in answer to a despatch from Spain, a committee of these towns, which were known for certain to have been inhabited the settlers in the neighbouring town of Valladolid were able to at the time of the Spanish conquest, bear some similarity in plan give some account of them in the year 1579. and arrangement to the older ruins, there is the great distinction My personal experience of the ruins in Yucatan is limited to a to be observed that in no instance is there any indication of the hasty visit to Labna and Uxmal, and a residence of five months former existence of stone-roofed buildings, that there are only a in one of the ruined temples of Chichén Itzá. At Chichén my few stones which show any trace of ornamental carving, and clearings and surveys extended over an area of nearly a mile that of the roughest description, and that there are no remains square, and although this appeared to include all the principal of any carved inscriptions.
edifices, it was impossible to walk into the bush in any direction It may be as well to say a word of warning against the ex- from the edge of this area without coming on the traces of stone aggerated accounts of the magnificence of the Indian towns of buildings. Guatemala at the time of the conquest which have found their The surface of the ground, even in the centre of the town, way into the histories of the country by Fuentes, Juarros, and although generally level, was in some places composed of cavernothers, and are still alluded to and sometimes accepted as facts ous and broken limestone rock, and these portions had apparently by modern travellers. To give only one instance. In describing been walled off as unfit for buildings. But, wherever the the palace of the Quiché kings at Utatlan, dimensions are given ground was suitable, there were numerous traces of slightly for this palace which exceed the whole extent of the land on constructed buildings in addition to the more solid structures. which any building is possible, for the site of the town is most The hieroglyphic inscriptions at Chichén are few in number, clearly defined, and limited by the great “barranca” or rift, some and with one small exception very poorly carved, but there is hundreds of feet deep, which almost encircles it. It was no doubt enough to show that they did not differ in character from those this peculiar situation, that of an almost inaccessible peninsula in Guatemala and Chiapas. There is, however, one great distincin the middle of an undulating plain, which gave the site so tion between the sculptures in Yucatan and the country to the much value in the eyes of the Quichés.
south which must not be overlooked. In the latter there is an There is, then, a clearly marked difference between the remains almost entire absence of weapons of war, and the figures of of the towns of which we have some historical knowledge and women occupy a prominent position. In Yucatan the change is the more ancient ruins.
complete : there are no women represented in the sculptures, But when one considers the fair state of preservation of some and every man is a warrior armed with spears and throwingof the buildings at Palenque and Menché, and the presence of stick. sound wooden beams in the temples and houses at Tikal, it is Whether the Maya civilization extended to Yucatan during hardly possible to ascribe even to these ruins any very great the time that it flourished at Copan or Palenque, it is at present antiquity.
impossible to determine ; but I strongly incline to the opinion From my own observation of the state of the ruins themselves, that all the buildings now standing in Yucatan are of a later date. and the style of art displayed in the carved ornaments and inscrip. It may be perhaps allowable to state the case somewhat as tions, I should feel inclined to give to Quirigua the earliest date, follows: Copan the next, then Menché, Palenque, and Tikal, in the order That the civilized portion of the Maya race have at some time named.
occupied all the country lying between the Isthmus of Tehuantepec We must now turn our attention to the province of Yucatan. and the western frontiers of Honduras and Salvador (excepting
The central portion of the peninsula has always been more perhaps a strip of country along the Pacific sea-board); that this or less a terra incognita. The Spaniards never really brought people spoke the same or nearly allied languages, which they wrote its inhabitants into complete subjection, and to this day it is or carved in the same script ; that they were followers of the same peopled by hostile Indians, and no Spaniard dares to enter it. religion, and built stone-roofed temples and houses decorated
If this country contains traces of the old civilization, nothing with the same class of design and ornament. definite is known of them. The northern portion of the pen- That at the time of the Spanish conquest they had entirely insula was brought completely under Spanish control, and is abandoned all their towns and religious centres in the country known to be studded with the remains of groups of ancient to the south of Yucatan, although the good state of preservation stone buildings.
of many of the buildings at the present time precludes the idea It was on the north-east coast of Yucatan that the Spaniards that this desertion of their towns could have ante-dated the first came into contact with Indians who used stone as a building arrival of the Spaniards by very many years. That the people material, and there can be but little doubt that some of the many whom the Spaniards encountered in this part of the country, ruined structures now to be seen were inhabited by the natives although they may have been allied in blood to the Mayas, were at the time of the conquest.
undoubtedly in a lower state of culture, and that an examination I am myself inclined to the opinion that the north of of the sites of their principal towns yields no signs of the Yucatan was the last stronghold of the more cultivated branch artistic culture which is universally found in the older ruins. of the Maya race after that race had either been driven out of, That in Yucatan, where the Spaniards found a dense populaor under the stress of unknown adverse circumstances had tion of Maya Indians, and encountered a fierce and stubborn retrograded in, the country to the south. But it does not resistance, there are still to be seen numerous remains of ancient follow that the Indians of Yucatan were at the height of their buildings, both larger and in better preservation than those in power and prosperity when the Spaniards came amongst them. Guatemala and Chiapas, but built in the same manner, decorIn fact, their conquerors learnt from them that for some time ated with the same ornaments, and with inscriptions carved in previously the country had been troubled with civil wars and the same hieroglyphic script. That there is evidence, from the dissensions, and that Mayapan, once the chief town, had been early Spanish writings, that some at least of those buildings destroyed and abandoned. It seems quite probable that this were still occupied at the time of the conquest; but that both statement may be enlarged on to a considerable extent, and that the observations of the Spaniards themselves, as well as the we may consider the country to have been in a state of decadence, reports subsequently gathered by them from the Indians, point and that not one but many of the chief centres of population had to the conclusion that the country was in a state of decadence, been more or less abandoned. However, the temples and sacred and that many of the larger centres of population had already edifices appear still to have been held in reverence after the been abandoned, although the more important religious edifices population had moved away, and were visited during festivals, may still have been reverenced and kept in repair. and may have been kept in some sort of repair by the priests; The early Spanish writers make frequent allusion to the large much in the same way as I believe the ruined dagobas and number of books written and preserved by the natives of temples at Pollonarua and Anuradhapura are reverenced and Yucatan. These books were written in hieroglyphic characvisited by the people of Ceylon.
ters in the Maya language, which, it must be remembered, is This appears to me to have been most probably the case with still spoken by the whole of the Indian population of Yucatan, regard to the important buildings which still mark the site of as well as by nearly all the half-breeds and Spaniards. what must have once been the large town of Chichén Itzá.
Unfortunately, every effort was made by the Spanish priests It has, I know, been stated that Chichén was inhabited at the to destroy this literature, which they looked on as the work of time of Francisco de Montejo's first abortive effort to conquer the devil; and it is very doubtsul whether a single fragment Yucatan, and that the Spaniards were for some considerable of hieroglyphic manuscript is now in existence in the whol time encamped in the town; but this statement does not appear 'peninsula.