Mexico, as it was and as it is/Letter 25

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Mexico, as it was and as it is  (1847)  by Brantz Mayer
LETTER XXV.

LETTER XXV.


WHENCE CAME THE ANCIENT POPULATION? WHO BUILT THE ANCIENT CITIES? WHO WORSHIPPED THE IDOLS?


After this somewhat extended inspection of the Monuments of Mexican antiquity, the question naturally proposes itself to our minds:—Who were the builders of these temples, the worshippers of the idols, and whence did they come? Separated now by wide and lonely seas from the Continents of the Old World, was there once a period when the lands were united, and the same race spread over both? Or, are we to doubt the traditional and written histories of ages, and believe that an original race peopled the American wilds, and built and worshipped after the promptings of their own spirits?

These are questions that have puzzled and must continue to puzzle the antiquarians of both hemispheres. They cannot be solved. The traditions—the habits—the languages—the edifices—of all tribes, races, and nations, have been studied and contrasted without result. Separate theories have been earnestly and ingeniously advanced. First, that the inhabitants came by the north and through Behring's Straits. Second, that they came by the islands of the Pacific, or that in times long past, the Pacific was not all sea, but partly filled, perhaps, with a vast Continent—and Third, that they may have arrived from the Old World by the Atlantic. There are long periods of unwritten and even untraditional history of the world, and learned and pious geologists seem now to be agreed in believing that when it is declared: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," it is not affirmed that God created the heaven and the earth on the first day, but that "this beginning may have been an epoch, at an unmeasured distance, followed by periods of undefined duration, during which all the physical operations disclosed by geology were going on."[1]

This is certainly satisfactory as to the formation of the earth—a mere fulcrum for the development and powers of a future human race. But, must not the Bible be considered a full historical account of "all the operations of the Creator in times and places with which that human race is concerned?" Is it daring to question this? How small is the geographical space covered by the history of the Old Testament! It is an established fact, that the whole of the animal races are not common to both Continents. A great variety of quadrupeds have been found in America that were unknown in Europe, and the same is true in regard to birds and fish.

It is difficult to touch this question, without interfering with the authority of the Pentateuch; but if we were at liberty to discuss such matters, there are few who would not hold the doctrine, that it is perfectly reconcilable with rational science to believe, that the two Continents existed contemporaneously from the oldest periods, filled with distinct races, of separate customs, manners, habits and languages; who, by the simple and natural impulses of humanity arrived at similar results, in religion, science, architecture and government. Animals found in both hemispheres arrive at the same results—why may not man? It is replied, that they are guided alone by instincts? Is it not by his instincts, improved by his reason, that man, too, is led to every operation of his varied life? By the ruins which are left, of what those instincts and reason once produced on this Continent, we are alone enabled to judge of our ancestors. Defence—protection from the weather—religion—the calculation of time—the necessity of food;—these are the chief instinctive wants and promptings of man's nature. Men suffer from the seasons, from sun and shower,—whence dwellings. Men have a natural feeling of adoration, gratitude, dependence,—hence religion, groves, altars, mounds, and even pyramids, as they advance in civilization. Men behold the natural changes of day and night; the motion of the sun, moon and stars; they note that there is an equality of time and season, and that these are comparatively of longer or shorter duration at different periods of the year,—and hence a calendar. Men are social, and congregate into societies, and in the process of time their natural passions beget discontent and wars,—hence fortifications and weapons of defence. Men hunger,—and hence the invention of instruments by which they succeed in the sports of the field, or control the chase. And, at length, with all the elements of civilized society around them, in shrines, bulwarks, domestic retreats, arsenals, social love, and national glory—they come to have a history; and, with the laudable desire of perpetuating the memory of themselves and of their epoch, you find at Palenque, as well as in Egypt and on the Ganges, those figured monuments which tell the tale of the departed great, by symbols, letters, paintings or hieroglyphics.

Now, separated by thousands of leagues of sea from the Eastern hemisphere, and with men who had no means, but the frail canoe, of transporting themselves over it, you suddenly alight on these shores, in the midst of the sixteenth century;—and find temples, idols, the remains of dwellings, fortifications, weapons of defence and chase, astronomical calendars, and people, worshipping, living and governing in the midst of every external evidence of ancient civilization. The whole of North America, we have seen, and a large portion of South America, is strewn with these or similar remains, from Canada to far below the equator. Here, in the north, it is supposed that there were three races, succeeding each other, two of which have vanished even from tradition.

"The monuments of the first, or primitive race," said the late William Wirt, "are regular stone walls, wells stoned up, brick hearths, found in digging the Louisville canal, medals of copper, silver swords, and other implements of iron. Mr. Flint assures us that he has seen these strange ancient swords. He has also examined a small iron shoe, like a horseshoe, incrusted with the rust of ages, and found far below the soil, and a copper axe, weighing about two pounds, singularly tempered and of peculiar construction.

"These relics, he thinks, belonged to a race of civilized men, who must have disappeared many centuries ago. To this race he attributes the hieroglyphic characters found on the limestone bluffs; the remains of cities and fortifications in Florida; the regular banks of ancient live-oaks near them; and the bricks found at Louisville, nineteen feet below the surface in regular hearths, with the coals of the last domestic fire upon them;—these bricks were hard and regular, and longer in proportion to their width than those of the present day.

"To the second race of beings are attributed the vast mounds of earth, found throughout the whole western region, from Lake Erie and western Pennsylvania to Florida and the Rocky mountains. Some of them contain skeletons of human beings, and display immense labor. Many of them are regular mathematical figures, parallelograms and sections of circles, showing the remains of gateways and subterranean passages. Some are eighty feet high, and have trees growing on them, apparently of the age of five hundred years. They are generally of a soil differing from that which surrounds them, and they are most common in situations where it since has been found convenient to build towns and cities.

"One of these mounds was levelled in the centre of Chillicothe, and cart-loads of human bones removed from it. Another may be seen in Cincinnati, in which a thin circular piece of gold, alloyed with copper, was found last year. Another in St. Louis, named the "Falling Garden," is pointed out to strangers as a great curiosity.

"Many fragments of earthenware, some of curious workmanship, have been dug up throughout this vast region; some represented drinking vessels, some human heads, and some idols;—they all appear to have been moulded by the hand, and hardened in the sun. These mounds and earthen implements indicate a race inferior to the first, which was acquainted with the use of iron.

"The third race are the Indians now existing on the Western Territories. In the profound silence and solitude of these regions, and above the bones of a buried world, how must a philosophic traveller meditate upon the transitory state of human existence, when the only traces of the beings of two races of men are these strange memorials! On this very spot generation after generation has stood, lived, warred, grown old and passed away; and not only their names, but their nation, their language has perished, and utter oblivion has closed over their once populous abodes! We call this the New World. It is old! Age after age, and one physical revolution after another has passed over it—but who shall tell its history?

Who? We have seen the memorials of three distinct races—but who can tell the origin of the first two—or even of the last? And, yet, these are only part of the inhabitants of North America.

I have attempted to describe to you the prominent remains that still exist farther south, in the Valley of Mexico, and in other portions of the Republic. Following the links of the chain still farther south, Messieurs Stephens and Catherwood have given an account of forty cities visited by them in their second tour; and they describe the ruins of others and their monuments, still more southerly, in their former volumes.

In South America, we have only the most distinct accounts of Peru; and although the Government of the Incas possessed no regular city but Cuzco, many interesting specimens have been exhumed from the "Guacas," or mounds, with which they covered the bodies of the dead. "Among these," says Dr. Rees, are "mirrors of various dimensions, of hard shining stones, highly polished; vessels of earthenware, of different forms; hatchets and other instruments, some destined for war, and others for labor. Some were of flint, some of copper, hardened by an unknown process, to such a degree as to supply the place of iron," To these may be added a variety of curious drinking vessels, made of pottery baked and painted; many specimens of which embellish the public and private Museums of our country, and are not unlike some that have been found in the Island of Sacrificios.

click on this image to enlarge it.

peruvian water vessels.

The public roads of the Peruvians were also worthy of all praise; especially those two magnificent highways traversing the country from Quito to Cuzco for fifteen hundred miles;—the one passing through the interior over mountain and valley, and the other by the plains of the sea-coast. But, in the construction of their Temples this remarkable people exhibited their greatest ingenuity, as well as in their edifices designed for the comfort and occupation of their sovereigns. "The Temple of Pachacamac, together with the Palace of the Inca, and Fortress, were so connected together, as to form one great structure above half a league in circuit. Though they had not discovered the use of mortar, or of and other cement in building, the bricks and stones are joined with such nicety that the seams can hardly be discerned. Notwithstanding the inconvenient arrangement of the apartments, and the want of windows, the architectural works of the Peruvians, which still remain, must be considered as stupendous efforts of a people unacquainted with the use of iron and the mode of applying the mechanical powers. Among the ancient edifices of this people, we may mention the Obelisk and Statues of Tiahuanuca, and Mausoleums of Chachapoyas, which are conical buildings of stone, supporting rude busts of huge and massive dimensions."[2]

Yet all that these remains from north to south, through such a varied extent of latitude and climate, can effect, is to strike us with wonder and stimulate, though they puzzle our most eager curiosity. The monuments, themselves disclose nothing of the origin of the races. Is there, then, a written record? Are there any volumes or scattered leaves remaining to tell the story?

The only remnant of the character that I have been able to discover (and it is slightly referred to by Mr. Stephens,) is, what is called an Aztec manuscript, which was purchased in 1739 by Göetz, at Vienna, during a literary tour he made to Italy, and is now preserved, under the name of Codex Mexicanus in the Royal Collection of Dresden.

It is written on metl, or paper undoubtedly made of the leaves of the Agave Americana, similar to others brought from Mexico and preserved at Veletri, Vienna, and in the Vatican. It is described as forming a tabella plicalis, or folding book, which may be shut up like a map; nearly eighty-one yards in length, and covered, on both sides, with paintings and written characters. Each page is about seven inches in length by three inches and a little more in breadth. One side of the page is occupied by painted figures, and the rest by signs or letters placed side by side, and by no means unlike the Chinese, or the hieroglyphic characters delineated by Mr.Catherwood, as partly covering the monuments at Palenqne and Copan.

The opposite plate is a precise copy of one page of this manuscript at given by Baron Humboldt, in his Atlas, except that I have been unable to present you with the brilliant blue, red, green and yellow colors that tint the figures and give to the whole the appearance and effect of an illuminated missal.

A writer in the sixteenth volume of the Edinburgh Review, at page 222 of the American edition, casts doubts on the genuineness of this
click on this image to enlarge it.

mexican manuscripts

manuscript, as being of Aztec origin; he thinks "it highly improbable that it is Mexican, as nothing like it has yet been found among the monuments of that people; while, on the other hand, it seems probable that it is the workmanship of the same race that reared and inhabited Palenque, seeing that similar characters abound among its ruins." One of the strongest circumstantial evidences, in all legal investigations of the authenticity of documents, is the material on which they are written. False wills have thus been detected by the date in the water mark; and, in this instance, it will be recollected that the material is precisely similar to that which is known to have been brought from Mexico, containing drawing, that were undoubtedly made by the Aztecs. In addition to this, it is a work written and painted on paper made of the Agave Americana, or American Aloe, not a single one of which is delineated by Mr. Catherwood as growing wild among the ruins of Palenque. In fact, it is a plant almost unknown in the level and warmer territories near the coast; it is peculiar to the elevated plateaus of the Valley of Mexico and the adjacent country, and I do not remember to have seen it, in the course of my journey through the tierra caliente, even at the short distance of sixty miles south of the Capital in the vale of Cuernavaca. If it be replied to this that the paper or leaf may have been brought to Palenque from Mexico, the answer would at once show a connection of arts between the people, and go far to prove their national identity or close alliance and intercourse. It should be remembered, too, that works like this would very naturally have been the first to be destroyed in Mexico, and the smallness of their number would thus be successfully accounted for.

From these facts we may fairly argue that this book of eighty yards in length, covered with written characters and illuminated with pictures, is, in all probability, a Mexican production. The figures of the men or demons are evidently similar, both in physignomy, posture and faces, to those on the monuments and idols I have already described to you. But who shall decipher their meaning, or that of the hieroglyphics?

For years the antiquarians of the Old World were guessing at the magnification of Egyptian hieroglyphics, until, in 1799, a French engineer, when digging the foundations of Fort St. Julien, on the west bank of the Nile, between Rosetta and the sea, discovered the fragment of a stone which is now deposited in the British Museum. It contained an inscription in hieroglyphic, Demotic, and Greek—two of which are ancient Egyptian languages. The Greek was deciphered and the translation applied to the Demotic, and both, again, to the hieroglyphic; and, thus, after years of patient and unceasing toil, a key has been formed by which the present savans of Europe go among the relics of Egypt, and decipher the inscriptions on their tombs as easily as we read the mementoes over the graves of our friends in the cemeteries of Boston or Baltimore. But even if a Rosetta stone were discovered in Mexico, there is no Indian tongue to supply the key or interpreter.

We are thus, in all probability, for ever stopped in our investigations of the origin of these races;—either from their Monuments or their written Records. We are left to trace national relations by similar buildings, similar dresses, similar traditions, similar worship, similar governments, or similar faith; but all these identities are not inconsistent with the idea arrived at by Mr. Bradford in his Researches on the Origin and History of the Red Race, that the Aborigines of America may have been "a primitive branch of the human family."[3]

I confess, when I recollect the Mexican tradition, that the original tribes came to their beautiful valley, after many years and vicissitudes of a dreary pilgrimage from the north, I have not thought it fanciful to believe, that they may have belonged to one of the two races described by Mr. Wirt, as extinct before the origin of the present Red Men of our forests and prairies. Wave after wave of the flowing tide of humanity may have beaten gradually along this Continent from north to south, each urging on the preceding. Tired of the hunter life at the inhospitable north, they wandered off to the south. A straggler now and then returned with a tale of the genial climate, shady groves, and prolific soil of the central regions;—and, thus, family after family, colony after colony, tribe after tribe, was induced to quit its colder homes, and settle in the south. As in the Old World, that south became the centre of civilization. Men were modified by climate. The rude savage, who depended upon the chase for subsistence at the north, and dwelt in caves or sheltered under the forest leaves, awoke to a new idea of life in his newer home. The energy of his character was not yet lost;—he saw the magical power of agriculture, and a new idea was revealed to him through its mysterious agency. There was no need of excessive toil in the fields or in the forests. His spirit became less warlike, and more social, as men congregated in populous neighborhoods. While in the north, the merest and fewest necessaries—his weapon, his breastwork, his fireplace, his cave for a dwelling, and a mound for a grave—sufficed the Indian, his whole purposes and instincts assumed a different character in the south.

The warrior and hunter loved the hardships taught him at the north, by his wandering habits from infancy;—but, the burning sun and milder climate of the south, while they inclined to peace and longevity, induced him to build tasteful and sheltering edifices for himself and his posterity. The adoration of his gods, became an enthusiasm, under more fervid skies; and the vow or the worship that were once offered in the recesses of groves, in the silence of dark woods, or on the mountain-top,—were here poured forth on the lofty pyramid, built by human hands and fashioned by human art.

Although we are left in this mystery as to the peopling of America, I think there is not so much doubt in regard to the inhabitants of Uxmal, Palenque, Copan, Chichen-Itza, and the various cities that have been described by Mr. Stephens.

According to Clavigero, a tribe, known as the Toltecs, left their home in the north, and, after a journey of emigration that lasted 104 years, (during which time they frequently tarried in certain places for years and months, erecting edifices and partially establishing themselves,) they, at length, reached the vale of Anahuac, a territory that subsequently became the seat of the Mexican Empire. At Tollan, or Tula, they founded the Capital of a dynasty, which lasted 384 years;—celebrated for its wisdom, knowledge, and extensive civilization. About 1051, (the tradition runs,) famine and pestilence nearly desolated the kingdom, and a great portion of those who escaped the ravages of disease emigrated immediately to Yucatan and Guatemala, leaving but a scattering remnant of this once flourishing empire in Tula and Cholula.

For one hundred years afterward Anahuac was nearly depopulated.

Then came an emigration of the Chichimecas, from the north, like the Toltecs, and from a place which they called Amaquemecan. These, too, intermingling with the Toltec remnants, had their reign among the ruins of the former empire,—dwelling, however, in small villages, and lacking all the elements of civilization.

Eight years after their advent to Anahuac, six tribes called the Nahuatlacks arrived, having left, at a short distance, a seventh, called Aztecs. Shortly afterward, they were joined by their missing tribe and by the Acolhuans, who are said to have emigrated from Teoacolhucan, near the original country of the Chichimecas. These were, undoubtedly, the most enlightened of all the wandering tribes who had penetrated these valleys since the days of the Toltecs, and they speedily formed an alliance with their ancient neighbors.

Of all these wanderers, however, we have now no traditions, except in relation to the Aztecs, who, departing from Azatlan in the north about the year 1160, continued their singular and weary pilgrimage, with frequent delays, until 1325; when, finding on a rock in a lake, the "Eagle on the Prickly Pear," (the omen to which they had been prophetically directed for the foundation of their future Capital,) they gathered together among the marshes of Tezcoco, and built the city of Tenochtitlan,—the Mexico of Cortéz. It is believed, both by Clavigero and Humboldt, that all these tribes of the Toltecs, Acolhuans, Chichimecas and Nahuatlacks, spoke the same language, and therefore, in all probability, emigrated from about the same degree of northern latitude.

Besides these tribes, there were others in the country at the period of the conquest. The Tarascos who inhabited Michoacan, the barbarous Ottomites, the Olmecs and Xicalancas, and Miztecas and Zapotecas;—the latter of whom are held, by Humboldt, to have been even superior to the Mexicans in point of civilization, and were probably antecedent, in the date of their emigration, to the Toltecs. In addition to this, you must bear in mind that the ancient Mexican Empire did not cover (as is usually supposed,) the whole of what is now the Republic of Mexico, or formerly New Spain. On the east, it was bounded by the river Coatzacualeo; on the north, it did not extend farther than Tusapan; on the west, it was washed by the Pacific; and on the south, it reached, in all probability to near the limits of what are now the provinces of Chiapas and Tobasco.[4]

You will recollect, that after the "pestilence and famine" that thinned the numbers of the Toltecs, the greater portion of the survivors emigrated to Yucatan and Guatemala; these were a highly civilized people,—living in houses, and building temples—to whom, perhaps, the Mexicans were indebted for the germ of their subsequent refinement. Is it not, then, highly probable, that the ancient ruins found by Mr. Stephens, scattered over Guatemala, Yucatan and Chiapas, were the palaces and temples of this wandering race? It strikes me, that no one can compare the unquestionably Toltec Vase found in the department of Tula, and described at page 108, the sculptures on the Stone of Sacrifice, at page 119; and in fact the general characteristics of all the sculpture, idols and figures heretofore represented, with those delineated by Mr. Catherwood, and doubt the identity or close connection between the people. We have every evidence of high civilization among the Mexicans, as you have observed in the preceding pages. They had temples, gods, gardens, magnificent dwellings, and all the paraphernalia of a splendid Empire. This Empire was in full power and glory at the period of the Spanish conquest. Its southern limit nearly bounded on Guatemala and Yucatan, and, with the most distant portion, there was, unquestionably, a communication kept up by the Capital. Why, then, may not the palaces of Uxmal, Palenque and Chiapas, have been inhabited, and their altars and temples used, as places of sacrifice in the days of Cortéz, as well as the heights of Chapultepec—or the Teocalli of Mexico?

The silence of contemporary historians in regard to the former cities of Yucatan and Guatemala, is no argument against their having been inhabited. The two best writers, Cortéz and Bernal Diaz, were soldiers, not antiquarians. They came for conquest, not research; and it is greatly to be regretted that a history of Guatemala, known to have existed a few years ago in that country, in the original manuscript of Diaz, (and which was once in the possession of Mr. Whitehead, of Mexico,) has been utterly lost in the turmoils and confusion of that country.

It seems to me impossible to believe that the Valley of Mexico was the only seat of refinement, taste, and luxury on the isthmus, or that so powerful an Empire existed in all its splendor, while the pyramids, temples, palaces, and edifices which are represented in the plates accompanying these letters, were abandoned to the forest and its beasts. I cannot believe, that in so small a geographical space there could be such palpable anachronisms,—so much light in one spot with so much blackness next it;—that people, at the height of social and architectural refinement, should have had neighbors at the distance of 100, 200, or 300 miles, who were utter savages, while, a few degrees farther south, there was another stratum of known civilization in Peru.

I do not rely upon all the dates, assigned by Mexican historians, for the rise and fall of the Toltecs and Aztecs. There is doubt among the best writers on these subjects. The period, during which their emigration from the north continued, may be correct; but I question the accuracy of the time given for the commencement and spread of their respective monarchies, especially, when we remember the numbers who fell either in battle or under the sacrificial knife. The empires were exceedingly populous, and it would seem to have required centuries to gather all the population that existed in the vale of Anahuac after the ravages that terminated the Toltec sway. Besides this, the Mexicans rose to great refinement from absolute barbarism, or from the comparative ignorance and bad habits they had contracted during a long emigration. This requires time. The growth of nations is gradual. How long did it require to pile up the hill of Xochicalco—to dig its ditch of a league in extent—to quarry its immense stones—to bring them from their distant caves—to bear them to the summit of the mound—to pile them up in the several stories of the pyramid—and, lastly, to cover the whole with elaborate carving? How long did it require to prepare the mind of a nation, step by step, for the idea and construction of such an edifice;—which, we must remember, is but one out of thousands!


It is difficult to determine what might have been the extent of our knowledge of all the questions with which I began this letter, if the holy fathers, instead of making bonfires of Mexican records, had studied them with antiquarian zeal. Yet, I have at least satisfied myself, that if we know nothing of the origin of the people of America, we may at least be confident that Palenque, Uxmal, Copan, Mexico, Xochicalco, Teotihuacan, Cholula, Papantla, Tusapan, and Mitla, were the dwellings and temples of civilized nations at the period of the Spanish conquest. If ever the city of which Mr. Stephens heard, as existing among the mountains, (unvisited hitherto by white men,) is penetrated by some future band of adventurous travellers, the mystery may, perhaps, be solved. That such a city exists, I think by no means improbable, when it is recollected, that near the town of Cuernavaca, not more, perhaps, than seventy miles from the Capital of Mexico, there is a populous and well governed Indian village, enjoying its native habits, and refusing to hold intercourse with the Spaniards. How much more probable that there should be primitive tribes of which we have not the slightest information flourishing with their original laws, customs, towns, and temples, among the folds of the distant mountains in the bosom of our unexplored Continent![5]

Note.—The Mexican Cosmogony has four periods, when it is alleged that all mankind, with the exception of two or three individuals, perished.

The 1st. period was terminated by famine at the end of ...... 4008 years.
" 2nd " " fire " " 4094 "
" 3rd " " hurricane " " 4060 "
" 4th " " deluge " " 4008 "

In this deluge all perished, with the exception of Centeotl, and his wife Xochiquetzalli, who escaped in a canoe.

I have already, at page 28, presented you an account of a Toltec legend, showing how one of the giants, called Xelhua, and his six brethren, were saved from deluge on the mountain of Tlaloc, while all the rest of mankind perished in the waters or were transformed into fish.

Josephus, quoting from the 96th book of Nicholas of Damascus, says "there is a great mountain in Armenia, over Mingus, called Baris, upon which, it is reported, that many who fled at the time of the deluge were saved: and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore on the top of it: and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man whom Moses, the legislator of the Jews wrote".

In the construction, form and object of the Mexican teocallis, there is striking analogy to the tumuli and pyramids of the world. According to Herodotus, the temple of Belus was a pyramid, built of brick and asphaltum, solid throughout, (πυργος στερος,) and it had eight stories. A temple (ναος) was erected on the top, and another at its base. In like manner, in the Mexican Teocallis, the tower (ναος) was distinguished from the temple on the platform: a distinction clearly pointed out in the letters of Cortéz. Diodores Siculus states, that the Babylonian temple served as an observatory to the Chaldeans: so, the Mexican priests, says Humboldt, made observations on the stars from the summit of the teocallis, and announced to the people, by the sound of the horn, the hour of the night. The pyramid of Belus was at once a temple and a tomb. In like manner, the tumulus (χωμα) of Calisto in Arcadia, described by Pausanias as a cone, made by the hands of man, but covered with vegetation, bore on its top the temple of Diana. The teocallis were also temples and tombs: and the plain in which are built the houses of the sun and moon at Teotihuacan, is called the path of the dead. The group of pyramids at Gheeza and Sakkara in Egypt, the triangular pyramid of the queen of the Scythians, mentioned by Diodorus: the fourteen Etruscan, pyramids which are said to have been inclosed in the labyrinth of king Porsenna at Closium: the tumulus of Alyattes at Lydia, (see Modern Traveller, Syria and Asia Minor. Vol ii. P. 153;) the sepulchers of Scandinavian king Gormus and his queen Daneboda: and the tumuli found in Virginia, Canada and Peru, in which numerous galleries, built with stone and communicating with each by shafts, fill up the interior of artificial hills;—are referred to by the learned traveler as sepulchral monuments of similar character, but differing from the teocallis in not being, at the same time, surmounted with temples. It is perhaps too hastily assumed, however, that none of these were destined to serve as bases for altars: and the assertion is much too unqualified, that "the pagodas of the Hindostan have nothing in common with the Mexican temples. That the Tanjore, notwithstanding that the altar is not at the top, bears a striking analogy in other respects to the teocallis"—See Humboldt's Researches. Vol. i. pp. 81-107; Pol. Essay. vol.ii. pp. 146-149; Mod. Traveler, vol. vi. P. 341.


  1. Buckland, vol.i, p.36
  2. Ross, vol. xxviii. article, Peru.
  3. In Mr. Norman's work on Yucatan at page 218, there is a letter from Doctor Morton, the celebrated author of "Crania Americana," in which, after expressing his thankfulness to Mr. N. for the opportunity afforded him of examining certain bones brought from Yucatan, he observes, that, "dilapidated as they are, then classification as far as I can ascertain them, correspond with all the etiological remains of that people which have come under my observation, and go to confirm the position, that all the American tribes (excepting the Esquimaux, who are obviously of Asiatic origin,) are of the same unmixed race. I have examined the skulls (now in my possession) of four hundred individuals belonging to tribes which have inhabited almost every region of North and South America, and I find the same type of organization to pervade and characterize them all. "I much regret that we have in this country so few skulls of the Mongolian or Polar tribes of Northern Asia. These are all important in deciding the question whether the Aboriginal American race is peculiar and distinct from all others; a position which I have always maintained, and which I think will be verified when the requisite means of comparison are procured."
  4. Vide Humboldt, Clavigero, and McCulloh.
  5. Vide Appendix No. 3, at page 368, for a very interesting letter from Horatio Hale, on the connection of the Indian languages.