Page:Mexico as it was and as it is.djvu/58

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27
PYRAMID OF CHOLULA.

posterity. If his ancestor celebrated, here, a bloody sacrifice of victims taken in battle, the modern Indian may purify the hill from the crime by the celebration of a peaceful mass, and the sermon of a worthy padre!

There remain at present but four stories of the Pyramid of Cholula, rising above each other and connected by terraces. These stories are formed, as I before said, of sun-dried bricks, interspersed with occasional layers of plaster and stone work. And this is all that is to be told or described. Old as it is—interesting as it is—examined as it has been by antiquaries of all countries—the result has ever been the same. The Indians tell you that it was a place of sepulture, and the Mexicans give you the universal reply of ignorance in this country: "Quien Sabe?"—who knows—who can tell!

For those who are interested particularly in Mexican antiquities since the recent publications of Mr. Stephens, and the beautiful drawings of Mr. Catherwood, have greatly familiarized almost all classes with the monuments of ancient American grandeur, I will translate some of the descriptive remarks of the Baron Humboldt, who visited these ruins near the beginning of our century.

"The Pyramid of Cholula," says he, "is exactly of the same height as that of Tonatiuh Ytxaqual, at Teotihuacan," (which I shall describe hereafter.) "It is 3 mêtres higher than that of Mycerinus, or the third of the great Egyptian pyramids of the group of Djizeh. Its base, however, is larger than that of any pyramid hitherto discovered by travellers in the old World, and is double of that known as the Pyramid of Cheops.

"Those who wish to form an idea of the immense mass of this Mexican monument by the comparison of objects best known to them, may imagine a square, four times greater than that of the Place Vendôme in Paris, covered with layers of bricks rising to twice the elevation of the Louvre! Some persons imagine that the whole of the edifice is not artificial; but as far as explorations have been made, there is no reason to doubt that it is entirely a work of art. In its present state (and we are ignorant of its perfect original height,) its perpendicular proportion is to its base as 8 to 1, while in the three great pyramids of Djizeh, the proportion is found to be 1616 to 1716 to 1; or, nearly, as 8 to 5."

May not this have been but the base of some mighty temple destroyed long before the conquest, and of which even the tradition no longer lingers among the neighboring Indians!

In order to afford you additional means of comparison, I annex the following table, also from Humboldt, of the relative proportions of several well known pyramids.

The feet are pieds du roi:

PYRAMIDS BUILT OF STONE.   PYRAMIDS OF BRICK.
Cheops. Cephran. Mycerinus. 1 of 5 stories in Egypt
near Sakbarah
of 4 stories in Mexico
Teotihuacan Cholula
Height 448 feet. 398 feet. 162 feet 150 feet. 171 feet. 173 f
Base. 728 655 580 210 645 1355