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circle divided into three hundred and sixty parts, as modern scientists do; this subdivision representing the abstract circumference value of the celestial circle, being the mean between 355, number of the days of the lunar synodical year, and 365, the number of the days of the solar year. The Mayas chose the twenty-millionth part of one-half of the meridian-that is, the metre-instead of the ten-millionth part of the distance between the poles of the earth as did the Egyptians.


NOTE XIV. (Page 105.)

(1) Having explained how the ancient Maya sages came to adopt the decimal system in their numeration, and the metre as a standard of lineal measures, as found by actual survey of their ancient temples and palaces, I will premise a few observations on Dr. Brinton's chapters on "Maya Measures" by some lines from the introduction to my paper on "Maya and Maya Inscriptions," published in the "Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society," of Worcester, Mass. They were written by Mr. Stephen Salisbury, now its president. This gentleman has many friends in Yucatan, a country which he has often visited. These know personally Mrs. Le Plongeon and myself. They are well acquainted with our work among the ruined cities of their native land.

"Dr. and Mrs. Le Plongeon have the rare advantage of an almost continuous residence among Maya ruins for more than seven years, and of constant relations with a class of Indians most likely to preserve traditions regarding the past history of the mysterious structures which abound in Yucatan." 2

It being settled, I hope beyond doubt, that we have studied the Mayas where they can be thoroughly studied—that is, by living among them and as one of them--and it being admitted that such being the case we ought to know their customs, manners, traditions, etc., better than any one who has not


'D. G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, pp. 433-439.

Stephen Salisbury, Proceedings of Am. Antiq. Soc., April, 1881.

even set foot in their country, may I be permitted to ask Dr. Brinton a few questions respecting the "only measures" that, he asserts, were used by their ancestors? If these did not use the metric system, why, in speaking of the size of the pages of the Dresden Codex, does he say, "The total length of the sheet is 3.5 metres, and the height of each page is 0.295 metre, the width 0.085 metre "?1

What, in the name of common sense and professorial consistency, does this mean? Does he not assert authoritatively, on page 434 of his book, "The Maya measures are derived directly and almost exclusively from the human body, and largely from the hand"? It would seem that the apostrophe of Festus to Paul suits his case exactly: "Thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." The first duty of a teacher, and particularly a would-be critic, is to be consistent with himself. Describing the size of the Dresden Codex, a Maya book, he should have said, "It is three and one-half paces long, one span and four fingers in height, and four fingers in width." His readers would then have been able to form a very exact idea of its size, particularly had they perused the half dozen pages of the Maya names for footstep, pace, or stride; for the distance from the ground to the ankle, to the knee, to the waist, to the breast, to the neck, to the mouth, to the top of the head; then for the width of the finger, of the hand, of the stretch between the end of the thumb and each of the other finger tips, which he has copied from Dr. Carl Herman Berendt's notebook, and imposes upon his readers as being, of his own knowledge, the only measures



'D. G. Brinton, Essays of an Americanist, Maya Codices," p. 251.

Ibid., work quoted, "Maya Measures," 434–439.

3 Acts of the Apostles, chap. xxvi., verse 24.

of length in use among the Mayas. Unhappily the late Dr. Berendt's cast-off philological garments are a misfit on Dr. Brinton's figure. He does not know how to wear them, nor that it is not always safe to parade with the feathers of a strange bird, though the feathers are paid for and the bird is


All the words quoted are perfectly correct. The German naturalist certainly noted them down when he began to learn Maya, from the mouth of the natives, not because he believed that the learned Maya mathematicians and architects had no other lineal measures than these rough estimates, which, on the other hand, are not peculiar to the Mayas, but are used by ignorant people in every country, and even by those who are not ignorant. Do we not say ankle deep in the sand; knee deep in the mud; waist, breast, chin deep in the water? Do we not measure distances approximately by steps or strides? depth, by fathoms? Describing the stature of a horse, do we not express it by saying it is so many hands high? Does this mean that these are the only standard measures of length in vogue among us? that astronomers, surveyors, architects, and mechanics make use of them in their mathematical computations? Can any one with common sense be guilty of such stupendous absurdity as to pretend that they do? Will any intelligent person doubt that that which happens to-day among us has happened in all times, in all countries, when and where skilful workmen have wanted accurate measurements to carry on their undertakings?

How, then, can the learned Professor of Linguistics and Archæology in the Pennsylvania University assert that the ancient Maya astronomers and architects had no other standard of lineal measures for their mathematical calculations, and

then attribute to my eccentricity the statement that they used the metre and its divisions?

In conclusion, it is apparent that this pedantic display of a useless nomenclature of Maya names for what he calls the standard lineal measure of the Mayas, was not published so much to impart to his readers exact information, as to parade Dr. Berendt's knowledge of the Maya language, while conveying the impression that this knowledge was his own. He should have remembered the saying: "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones; " to which I will add: If they venture to do so, they should at least wait until their neighbors are dead and buried.

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