Page:Mexico as it was and as it is.djvu/297

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232
MEXICO.

barrancas, we gathered together under the shelter of the trees, and partook of a dinner of dried kid, peppers and pulqué, preparatory to our visit to Tezcosingo.[1]

Directly at the foot of the eminence on which we rested, there was an extensive Indian remain. By an able system of engineering, the water had been brought by the ancients from the eastern sierra, for a distance, probably, of three leagues, by conduits across barrancas and along the sides of the hill; and the ruin below us was that of one of these aqueducts, across a ravine about a hundred feet in elevation.

You will find a view of this work in the opposite picture. The base of the two conduit pipes is raised to the required level on stones and masonry and the canals for the water are made of an exceedingly hard cement of mortar and fragments of pounded brick. Although, of course, long since abandoned, it is, in many places, as perfect as on the day of its completion; and perhaps as good a work, for all the necessary purposes as could be formed at the present day by the most expert engineers.

The view over the valley, to the north, toward the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, and across the lake to Mexico, was uninterrupted; and the city (beyond the waters, surrounded by a mirage on the distant plain,) seemed placed again, as it was three hundred years ago, in the midst of a beautiful lake.

After we had finished our meal, we gave a small compensation to the conscientious Indian, (who seemed delighted to escape from the meditated sacrilege,) and resumed our route toward Tezcosingo. The road, for a long distance, lay over an extensive table-land, with a deep valley north and south, filled on both sides with haciendas, villages, and plantations. We crossed the shoulder of a mountain, and descended half way a second ravine, near the eighth of a mile in extent, until we struck the level of another ancient aqueduct that led the waters directly to the hill of Tezcosingo. This elevation was broader, firmer, and even in better preservation, than the first. It may be crossed on horseback — thrice abreast.

As soon as we struck the celebrated hill we began ascending rapidly, by an almost imperceptible cattle-path, among gigantic cacti, whose thorns tore our skins as we brushed by them. Over the whole surface, there were remains of a spiral road cut from the living rock — strewn with frag-

  1. After my return to Mexico, tio Ignacio persisted in obtaining some of these "ancestral bones" from the barrancas and, although, the bagfull he sent was nearly ground to powder before it reached me, there were still some considerable fragments which I desired to submit to our naturalists for their opinion. They have not yet, however, arrived in the United States from Vera Cruz. Latrobe, at page 144, of his Rambles in Mexico, relates that some workmen in excavating for a canal at Chapingo, (a hacienda near Tezcoco), reached at the distance of four feet below the surface, "an ancient causeway, of the existence of which there had not been the remotest suspicion. The cedar poles by which the sides were supported were still sound at heart: and three feet below the edge of this ancient work they struck upon the entire skeleton of a Mastodon imbedded in the blue clay. The diameter of the trunk was eighteen inches. Wherever extensive excavations have been made on the table-land and in the valley, of late years, remains of this animal have almost always been met with. In the foundation of the Church of Guadalupe — on the estate of St. Nicholas, four leagues to the south, and in Guadalajara, portions of the skeleton have been discovered." Had the ancients some means of taming these beasts into laborers for their gigantic architecture?