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inhabitants; and that its concomitant, civilization, grew apace with its development. When, at the impulse of the instinct of self-preservation, men linked themselves into clans, tribes, and nations, history was born, and with it a desire to commemorate the events of which it is composed. The art of drawing or writing was then invented. The incidents regarded as most worthy of being remembered and preserved for the knowledge of coming generations were carved on the most enduring material in their possession-stone. And so it is that we find to-day the cosmogonic and religious notions, the records of natural phenomena and predominant incidents in the history of their nation and that of their rulers, sculptured on the walls of the temples and palaces of the civilized Mayas, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, as on the sacred rocks and in the hallowed caves of primitive uncivilized man.
It is to the monumental inscriptions and to the books of the Mayas that we must turn if we wish to learn about the primeval traditions of mankind, the development of civilization, and the events that took place centuries before the dim myths recorded as occurrences at the beginning of our written history.
Historians when writing on the universal history of the race have never taken into consideration that of man in America, and the role that in remote ages American nations played on this world's stage, and the influence they exerted over the populations of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Still, as far as we can scan the long vista of the past centuries, the Mayas seem to have had direct and intimate communications with them.
This fact is indeed no new revelation, as proved by the universality of the name Maya, which seems to have been as well known by all civilized nations, thousands of years ago, as is today that of the English. Thus we meet with it in Japan, the Islands of the Pacific, Ilindostan, Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, Equatorial Africa, North and South America, as well as in the countries known to us as Central America, which in those times composed the Maya Empire. The seat of the Government and residence of the rulers was the peninsula of Yucatan. Wherever found, the name Maya is synonymous with power, wisdom, and learning.
The existence of the Western Continent was no more a mystery to the inhabitants of the countries bordering on the Mediterranean than to those whose shores are bathed by the waves of the Indian Ocean.
Valmiki, in his beautiful epic the “Ramayana," says that, in times so remote that the “sun had not yet risen above the horizon,” the Mayas, great navigators, terrible warriors, learned architects, conquered the southern parts of the IndoChinese peninsula and established themselves there.
In the classic authors, Greek and Latin, we find frequent mention of the great Saturnian continent, distant many thou- . sand stadia from the Pillars of Hercules toward the setting sun. Plutarch, in his “Life of Solon,” says that when the famed Greek legislator visited Egypt (600 years before the Christian era), Sonchis, a priest of Sais, also Psenophis, a priest of Heliopolis, told him that 9,000 years since, the relations of the Egyptians with the inhabitants of the “ Lands of the West” had been interrupted because of the mud that had made the sea impassable after the destruction of Atlantis by earthquakes.
The same author again, in his work, “De Facie in Orbe Lunæ,” has Scylla recount to his brother Lampias all he had
learned concerning them from a stranger he met at Carthage returning from the transatlantic countries.
That the Western Continent was visited by Carthaginians a few years before the inditing of Plato's “ Atlantis,” the por. traits of men with long beards and Phænician features, discovered by me in 1875, sculptured on the columns and antæ of the castle at Chichen, bear witness. Diodorus Siculus attributes the discovery of the Western Continent to the Phænicians, and describes it as “a country where the landscape is varied by very lofty mountains, and the temperature is always soft and equable.” Procopius, alluding to it, says it is several thousand stadia from Ogygia, and encloses the whole sea, into which a multitude of rivers, descending from the highlands, discharge their waters. Theopompus, of Quio, speaking of its magni. tude, says:
“Compared with it, our world is but a small island;" and Cicero, mentioning it, makes use of nearly the same words: “Omnis enin terræ quæ colitur a vobis parva quædam est insula.' Aristotle in his work, “De Mirabile
“ Auscultatio,” giving an account of it, represents it “as a very large and fertile country, well watered by abundant streams; and he refers to a decree enacted by the Senate of Carthage toward the year 509 B.C., intended to stem the current of emi. gration that had set toward the Western Lands, as they feared it might prove detrimental to the prosperity of their city. The belief in the former existence of extensive lands in the middle of the Atlantic, and their submergence in consequence of seismic convulsions, existed among scientists even as far down as the fifth century of the Christian era. Proclus, one of the greatest scholars of antiquity, who during thirty-five years was at the head of the Neo-Platonic school of Athens, and was learned in all the sciences known in his days, in his “Commentaries on Plato's Timæus,” says: “The famous Atlantis
“ exists no longer, but we can hardly doubt that it did once, for Marcellus, who wrote a history of Ethiopian affairs, says that such and so great an island once existed, and that it is evidenced by those who composed histories relative to the external sea, for they relate that in this time there were seven islands in the Atlantic sea sacred to Proserpine; and, besides these, three of immense magnitude, sacred to Pluto, Jupiter, and Neptune; and, besides this, the inhabitants of the last island (Poseidonis) preserve the memory of the prodigious magnitude of the Atlantic island as related by their ancestors, and of its governing for many periods all the islands in the Atlantic sea.
. From this isle one may pass to other large islands beyond, which are not far from the firm land near which is the true
It is well to notice that, like all the Maya authors who have described the awful cataclysms that caused the submergence of the “ Land of Mu,” Proclus mentions the existence of ten countries or islands, as Plato did. Can this be a mere coincidence, or was it actual geographical knowledge on the part of these writers?
Inquiries are often made as to the causes that led to the interruption of the communications between the inhabitants of the Western Continent and the dwellers on the coasts of the Mediterranean, after they had been renewed by the Cartha
It is evident that the mud spoken of by the Egyptian priests had settled in the course of centuries, and that the seaWeeds mentioned by Hamilco had ceased to be a barrier sufficient to impede the passage, since Carthaginians reached the shores of Yucatan at least five hundred years before the Christian era. 1 These causes may be found in the destruction of Carthage, of its commerce and its ships, by the Romans under Publius Scipio. The Romans never were navigators. After the fall of Carthage, public attention being directed to their conquests in Northern Africa, in Western Asia, and in Greece; to their wars with the Teutons and the Cimbri; to their own civil dissensions and to the many other political events that preceded the decadence and disintegration of the Roman Empire; the maritime expeditions of the Phænicians and of the Carthaginians—their discoveries of distant and transatlantic countries became well-nigh forgotten. On the other hand, those hardy navigators kept their discoveries as secret as possible.
With the advent and ascendency of the Christian Church, the remembrance of the existence of such lands that still lingered among students,' as that of the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, was utterly obliterated from the mind of the people.
If we are to believe Tertullian and other ecclesiastical writers, the Christians, during the first centuries of the Christian era, held in abhorrence all arts and sciences, which, like literature, they attributed to the Muses, and therefore regarded as artifices of the devil. They consequently destroyed all vestiges as well as all means of culture. They closed the academies of Athens, the schools of Alexandria; burned the libraries of the Serapion and other temples of learning, which contained the works of the philosophers and the records of
1 Juan de Torquemada, Monarquia Indiana, lib. iii., cap. 3. Lizana (Bernardo), Devocionario de nuestra Señora de Itzamal, etc., part 1, folio 5, published by Abbé Brasseur, in Landa's Las Cosas de Yucatan, pp. 349 et passim.
2 Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter viii., verse 12.