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"To accept any authority as final, and to dispense with the necessity of independent investigation, is destructive of all progress."
(MAN by two Chelas.)
"What you have learned, verify by experience, otherwise learning is vain." (Indian Saying.)
In this work I offer no theory. In questions of history theories prove nothing. They are therefore out of place. I leave my readers to draw their own inferences from the facts presented for their consideration. Whatever be their conclusions is no concern of mine. One thing, however, is certain -neither their opinion nor mine will alter events that have happened in the dim past of which so little is known to-day. A record of many of these events has reached our times written, by those who took part in them, in a language still spoken by several thousands of human beings. There we may read part of man's history and follow the progress of his civilization.
The study-in situ―of the relics of the ancient Mayas has revealed such striking analogies between their language, their religious conceptions, their cosmogonic notions, their manners and customs, their traditions, their architecture, and the language, the religious conceptions, the cosmogonic notions, the manners and customs, the traditions, the architecture of the
ancient civilized nations of Asia, Africa, and Europe, of which we have any knowledge, that it has become evident, to my mind at least, that such similarities are not merely effects of hazard, but the result of intimate communications that must have existed between all of them; and that distance was no greater obstacle to their intercourse than it is to-day to that of the inhabitants of the various countries.
It has been, and still is, a favorite hypothesis, with certain students of ethnology, that the Western Continent, now known as America, received its human population, therefore its civilization, from Asia. True, there is a split in their ranks. They are not quite certain if the immigration in America came from Tartary across the Strait of Behring, or from Hindostan over the wastes of the Pacific Ocean. This, however, is of little consequence.
There are those who pretend, like Klaproth, that the cradle of humanity is to be found on the plateau of Pamir, between the high peaks of the Himalayan ranges, or like Messrs. Renan and Barthélémy Saint-Hilaire, who place it in the region of the Timæus, in the countries where the Bible says the "Garden of Eden" was situated; while others are equally certain man came from Lemuria, that submerged continent invented by P. L. Sclater, which Haeckel1 believes was the birthplace of the primitive ape-man, and which they say now lies under the waves of the Indian Ocean. The truth of the matter is, that these opinions are mere conjectures, simple hypotheses, and their advocates know no more when and where man first appeared on earth than the new-born babe knows of his surroundings or how he came.
The learned, wranglers on this shadowy and dim point 'Haeckel, Ernst, Hist. of Creation, vol. ii., p. 326.
forget that all leading geologists now agree in the opinion that America is the oldest known continent on the face of the planet; that the fossil remains of human beings found in various parts of it, far distant from each other, prove that man lived there in times immemorial, and that we have not the slightest ray of light to illumine the darkness that surrounds the origin of those primeval men. Furthermore, it is now admitted by the generality of scientists, that man, far from descending from a single pair, located in a particular portion of the earth's surface, has appeared on every part of it where the biological conditions have been propitious to his development and maintenance; and that the production of the various species, with their distinct, well-marked anatomical and intellectual characteristics, was due to the difference of those biological conditions, and to the general forces calling forth animal life prevalent in the places where each particular species has appeared, and whose distinctive marks were adapted to its peculiar environments.
The Maya sages doubtless had reached similar conclusions, since they called their country Mayach; that is, "the land first emerged from the bosom of the deep," "the country of the shoot; " and the Egyptians, according to Herodotus, boasted that "their ancestors, in the 'Lands of the West,' were the oldest men on earth."
If the opinion of Lyell, Humphry, and a host of modern geologists, regarding the priority of America's antiquity, be correct, what right have we to gainsay the assertion of the Mayas and of the Egyptians in claiming likewise priority for their people and their country?
It is but natural to suppose that intelligence in man was developed on the oldest continent, among its most ancient
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, Hindostan, 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 thousand 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