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You are well aware that during the last quarter of a century, particularly, human knowledge has made great progress in all branches of science except that of American archæology, which is not now much more advanced than it was a century ago. You also feel, if you do not admit it, that all that has been written on that subject in Europe and America does not pass from mere speculation on the part of the writers, and is therefore, scientifically and historically speaking, scarcely worth the paper on which said speculations and theories are printed; that none of the pretended authorities on the subject can read a single sentence of the Maya books and mural inscriptions; that they therefore know nothing about the ancient Mayas, their culture and scientific attainments, although some of said writers presume to pronounce magisterially on these subjects. You pose as, and are therefore considered, the authority in the United States on all questions pertaining to the ancient Mayas; for this reason I address myself to you, and also because you are now the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose members should be proud to help in shedding light on the ancient civilization of the continent on which they live.
In your book, "Essays of an Americanist" (p. 439), you aver that my asserting that the ancient Maya standard of lineal measures was the metre, or be it the ten millionth part of the quarter of the meridian, is one of my eccentricities, but give no reasons for so attacking my statement. A year
ago, through the columns of the New York Advertiser, a copy of which I mailed to your address, I sent you an invitation to prove your averment before any scientific society of your own choosing, provided the meeting were public.
There can be no better opportunity than the present, no better qualified audience than the scientists now assembled under your presidency, for passing judgment on all such questions.
Will you, then, appoint a day, at your own convenience, to meet me before the members of the association and discuss all points treated by you in your book above mentioned ? 1. Maya phonetics. 2. What were the true signs used by ancient Mayas for the cardinal points? 3. Landa alphabet and Maya prophecies. 4. Maya standard of measures. And, besides, the following: (1) Maya science of numbers; (2) Maya cosmogony; (3) Maya knowledge of geography, geology; and, if you please (4), Maya language and its universal spread among all ancient civilized nations of antiquity in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
All said discussion to rest altogether on hard facts, scientific or historical, not on mere conjectures or suppositions, so as to be of real value to the scientific world, and thus give ancient America its proper place in the universal history of the world. Of course, the four hundred photographic
slides made by me from photos also taken by me in situ I most willingly place at your disposal to sustain your part of the discussion, which I doubt not you will readily accept to redeem your written promise, made to me as far back as 1885, as I intend using them to demonstrate my side of the case. Hoping, sir, that you will gladly improve the opportunity to show that you are really an authority, with right therefore to criticise others on such an important subject, to all American scientists, and afford me one for displaying my extravagancies or eccentricities before the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, I beg to subscribe myself, Yours most respectfully,
18 SIDNEY PLACE, August 18, 1894.'
AUGUSTUS LE PLONGEON.
Dr. Brinton took no more notice of this challenge than he had taken of the former one, published in August, 1893, in the New York Advertiser.
Is it that he regards me, claiming no title of professor in any university, nor even that of member of any scientific society, as an adversary unworthy of him, whose defeat would bring him neither fame nor honor? Or is it on prudential grounds? Does he fear lest his ignorance of a subject on which he claims to be an authority should be made manifest, and his reputation as a learned archæologist be lost forever? Since he has refused to give me the opportunity to defend myself against his unwarranted aspersion, I will say here what I would have said to him personally before the members of the A. A. A. S. had he accepted my challenge.
The learned Professor of American Archæology and Linguistics of the University of Pennsylvania seems to be ignorant of the fact that the Chaldeans, who, we have shown, were in
'Brooklyn Eagle, edition of August 19, 1894.
their origin a Maya colony, also used the metre as their standard of lineal measures. Will he likewise accuse Ernest Renan, the late famous French scientist and professor in the Collège de France, of eccentricity, because on pages 60 and 61 of his "Histoire Générale des langues Sémitiques," he says: "Le caractère grandiose des constructions Babyloniennes et Ninivites, le développement scientifique de la Chaldée, les rapports incontestables de la civilisation Assyrienne avec celle de l'Egypte, auraient leur cause dans cette première assise de peuples matérialistes, constructeurs, auxquels le monde entier doit avec LE SYSTÈME MÉTRIQUE les plus anciennes connaissances qui tiennent à l'astronomie, aux mathématiques et à l'industrie."
No doubt the Professor of Archæology of the Pennsylvania University will also accuse the learned English astronomer John Wilson of downright lunacy for stating in his work, 'The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered ":1
“The adaptation of the Babylonian standard, based on a knowledge of the earth's circumference, to the monumental records of science prove that the Druids of Britain, the Persian Magi, the Brahmins of India, the Chaldees of Babylonia, the Egyptian hierarchy, the priests of Mexico and Peru, were all acquainted, as Cæsar says of the Druids, with the form and magnitude of the earth; or, as Pomponius Mela states, with the form and magnitude of the earth and motion of the
"Hence it is evident that the world had been circumnavigated at an unknown epoch, and colonies formed in the old and new world, all making use of the same standard in the con
1 John Wilson, The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered, vol. ii.,
struction of their religious monuments. So the Babylonian or Sabæan standard may be said to have been universal.
"The measurement of the earth's circumference made at a very remote period by an unknown race, who constructed the great teocalli of Xochicalco, accords with the measurement lately made by the French, if the circumference of the fort equals four thousand metres." 1
"The wandering Masons, who have left traces of their monuments in the four quarters of the world, will be found to have traversed the great Pacific Ocean, made the circuit of the globe, and measured its circumference." 2
"The Burmese hyperbolic temples, like the Egyptian and Mexican pyramidal temples, were most probably originally dedicated to the worship of the heavenly bodies.
The Sabæans regarded the pyramidal and hyperbolic temples and the obelisks as the symbols of divinity."3
"Religious zeal, so strongly characteristic of the doctrines promulgated in the systems of India and Egypt, was the means of furthering in those regions the extension of geographical knowledge at an epoch long anterior to the date of Christianity. This is evident from the still existing monumental records left by these early missionaries of religion and civilization, the founders of settlements in both hemispheres.'
"The ancient missionaries of religion and civilization planted the Babylonian standard with their pyramids and temples in all parts of the globe. It is only by these silent monuments that the ancient missions have been traced, after the
John Wilson, The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered, vol. i.,
lapse of ages, when all other records of their science and history had perished." 1
"The Babylonian standard of these missions has been traced through Asia, Egypt, Phoenicia, and along the Mediterranean coasts." 2
Will the learned Piazzi Smyth be also accused of oddity by the hypercritical Dr. Brinton because he asserts that the builders of the great Egyptian pyramid used as a standard of measures, at least in the king's chamber-the most recondite, mysterious, and, no doubt, sacred spot of the stupendous edifice-the one ten-millionth part of the earth's axis of rotation, instead of the one ten-millionth part of the quadrant of a great circle passing through the poles, as did the Chaldeans and the Mayas?
This selection of the one ten-millionth part of the diameter on the one hand, and the one ten-millionth part of the arc comprised between the pole and the equator on the other, as standard of lineal measures, proves not only an identity of canons in the astronomical computations of the Egyptians and the Chaldees, but that they had ascertained the size of the earth; and that, if they did not borrow this knowledge one from the other, they had learned it from the same masters, as Mr. John Wilson asserts. Were those masters the Mayas ?
Let us hear what Piazzi Smyth says on the subject: "Hence all that we can declare as to the fact is that near the interior of
1 John Wilson, The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered, vol. ii., p. 312.
Their language has also remained. It has been our guide through the present volume. (The author.)
2 John Wilson, The Lost Solar System of the Ancients Discovered, vol ii., p. 239.