Images de page

my property; it belongs to me, the god, the sun," which is in perfect accordance with this other ethnic name of Babylon, Ka-Ra, or be it Cah-La, "the city of eternal truth," of "the sun.'

[ocr errors]

The name given to the temple of the "seven lights of heaven," as well as its mode of construction, shows that the builders were colonists from a country where that kind of edifice the pyramid of stone-was not only common, but had so been from remote ages.

Babel is a word whose etymon has been a bone of contention for Orientalists and philologists. They are not yet agreed as to its meaning, simply because they do not know to what language it belongs nor whence came the people who raised the monument. We are told they were strangers in the plains of Shinar. Did they come originally from Mayach? They spoke the vernacular of that country far off beyond the sea toward the rising sun, and Genesis asserts that they had journeyed from the east.1

Ba, in Maya, has various meanings; the principal, however, is "father, ancestor."

99 66

Bel has also several significations. Among these it stands for "way, ""custom."

Ba-bel would therefore indicate that the sacred edifice was constructed according to the way, the custom, of the builders' ancestors.

Landa, in his work "Las Cosas de Yucatan," informs us that the Mayas were very fond of giving nicknames to all persons prominent among them. The same fondness exists today among their descendants, who seldom speak of their superiors by their name, but a sobriquet descriptive of some marked Genesis, chap. xi., verse 2.


characteristic observed by them and belonging to the individual. For instance, should anybody inquire concerning me, by my proper name, of the men who for months accompanied me in my expeditions in the ruined cities of Yucatan, they certainly would shake their heads and answer, "Don't know him." But if asked about the Ahmeexnal, "he of the long beard," then they would at once understand who was meant.1

This same custom seems to have prevailed among the primitive Akkadians, judging from the names of their first kings, the builders of the cities along the banks of the Euphrates, whose seals are stamped on the bricks used in the foundations of the edifices erected by them.

Urukh, we are told, is one of them; Likbabi is another frequently met with.

It is well known that no stones are to be found on the alluvial plains of Mesopotamia, that consequently the first cities were built of mud; that is, of sun-dried bricks-adobes. It is probably from that fact that they called the king who ordered them to be built Urukh, "he who makes everything from mud."

It always was, and it is to-day, a characteristic of the Mayas to give surnames to those whom they regard as their superiors. Cogolludo speaks of that peculiarity, and mentions their great witticism in thus giving nicknames, so that those to whom they were given could not take offence, even when they knew they were derided. An instance of this kind comes to my mind. Nakuk-Pech, a native nobleman who wrote a narrative of the conquest of Yucatan by the Spaniards, in the Maya language, represents them as addicted to drunkenness and to all sorts of debauchery; yet calls them Kul-uinicob, the holy men, who came to preach a "holy religion." But that nickname has a second meaning. Kul, it is true, means holy. Pronouncing the k softly, which a foreigner unaccustomed to the Maya pronunciation invariably does, it sounds cul, which means a cup," a "goblet," a "chalice," just as the Greek xvle. Therefore, cul-uinicob means "men addicted to the cup"-drunkards.


Urukh is a word composed of two Maya primitives—huk, "to make everything," and luk, “mud.” In composition Huk-luk would become contracted into Huluk, hence Urukh.

This is also said to have been the name of the city of Erech, the seat of a famous Akkadian ecclesiastical college.1 This, however, does not alter the meaning of the Maya etymology of the word, nor make it less appropriate, since the town was built of bricks dried in the sun-of mud, consequently.

As to the name of King Likbabi it is also composed of two Maya primitives-lik, "to transport," and bab, “to row.” It is extremely probable that when constructing the temples in whose foundations his name has been found, as there were no roads for transporting easily by land his building materials, he made use of the most convenient waterway offered by the Euphrates. Hence his sobriquet, Likbabi, "he who transports all things by water," that is, "by rowing."

In the language of Akkad were preserved all the scientific treatises of the Babylonians. But from the time when the Semitic tribes established themselves in Assyria, in or about the thirteenth century B.C., the Akkadian language began to fall into disuse. It was soon forgotten by the generality of the inhabitants. Its knowledge became the exclusive privilege of the priests, who were the depositaries of all learning. When the Semitic conquerors imposed their own dialect on the vanquished, the ancient tongue of Akkad remained, according to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the language of science in

F. Lenormant, Chaldean Magic and Sorcery, pp. 13, 323.
Ibid., pp. 318-321.



Apud George Rawlinson, Herodotus, vol. i., p. 319.

the East, as Latin was in the West during the middle ages. In the seventh century B.C., Asurbanipal, king of Assyria, tried to revive it. He ordered copies of the old treatises in the Akkadian language to be made, and also an Assyrian translation to be placed beside the text. It is those copies that have reached our times, conveying to us the knowledge of this ancient form of speech, that but few among the learned men of Babylon had preserved at the time of the fall of the Babylonian Empire, when Darius took possession of the city of Belus.1 We are informed by the Book of Daniel that none of the king's wise men could read the fatidical words, written by a spirit's hand on the wall of the banquet hall of King Belshazzar. one, Daniel the prophet, who was learned in all the lore of ancient Chaldeans, could interpret them. Dr. Isaac of New York, and other learned rabbins, assert that these words were Chaldaic. But they were, and still are, vocables pertaining to the American Maya language, having precisely the same meaning as given them by Daniel.3 The Maya words Manel, mane, tec, uppah, read in English:

Manel, "Thou art past," in the sense of finished.


Mane, "Thou art bought," hence "weighed" (all things being bought and sold by weight).

Tec, "light," "not ponderous."

day in the sense of "swift," "agile."

The word is taken to

Uppah, "Thou wilt be broken in two." To that word are allied paa and paaxal, "to break in two," "to break asunder," "to scatter the inhabitants of a place." 4

'Herodotus, lib. iii., 151, 158.

2 Book of Daniel, chap. i., verse 17.

Ibid., chap. v., verses 25-28.

'Pedro Beltran, Arte del Idioma Maya. Pio Perez, Maya dictionary.

[blocks in formation]

Is this a mere coincidence? By no means. There can be no doubt that the Akkadian or Chaldean to gue contained many Maya words. The limits of this work (o not allow me to adduce all the proofs I could bring forward t fully establish their intimate relationship. A few more must suffice for the present.

Let us take, for instance, the last words, according to Matthew and Mark, spoken by Jesus on the cross, when a sponge saturated with posca was put to his lips: "Eli, Eli, lamah sabachthani."

No wonder those who stood near him could not understand what he said. To this day the translators of the Gospels do not know the meaning of these words, and make him, who they pretend is the God of the universe, play before mankind a sorry and pitiful role, I will not say for a god, but for a man even. He spoke pure Maya. He did not complain that God had forsaken him when he said to the charitable individual who tried to allay the pangs of the intolerable thirst he suffered in consequence of the hardships he had endured, and the torture of the chastisement inflicted on him: "Hele, Hele, lamah zabac ta ni;" that is, "Now, now, I am fainting; darkness covers my face; " or, in John's words, "It is finished." 3

1 Matthew, chap. xxvii., verse 46. Mark, chap. xv., verse 34.

2 Posca was the ordinary beverage of Roman soldiers, which they were obliged to carry with them in all their expeditions, among which were the executions of criminals. Our authorities on this matter are Spartianus (Life of Hadrian, 10) and Vulcatius Gallicanus (Life of Avidius Cassius, ¿5). This posca was a very cooling drink, very agreeable in hot climates, as the writer can certify, having frequently used it in his expeditions among the ruined cities of the Mayas. It is made of vinegar and water, sweetened with sugar or honey, a kind of oximel.

John, chap. xix., verse 30.

« PrécédentContinuer »