raised such a magnificent temple in Cambodia, in the city of Angor-Thom, to their god, the seven-headed serpent, the Ahac-chapat of the Mayas, and afterward carried its worship to Akkad and to Babylon. In these cosmogonic notions we also find the reason why the number ten was held most sacred by all civilized nations of antiquity; and why the Mayas, who in their scheme of numeration adopted the decimal system, did not reckon by tens but by fives and twenties; and why they used the twenty-millionth part of half the meridian as standard of lineal measures.
In the following pages I simply offer to my readers the relation of certain facts I have learned from the sculptures, the monumental inscriptions carved on the walls of the ruined palaces of the Mayas; the record of which is likewise contained in such of their books as have reached us. I venture only such explanations as will make clear their identity with the conceptions, on the same subjects, of the wise men of India, Chaldea, Egypt, and Greece. I do not ask my readers to accept à priori my own conclusions, but to follow the sound advice contained in the Indian saying quoted at the beginning of this preface, "Verify by experience what you have learned;" then, and only then, form your own opinion. When formed, hold fast to it, although it may be contrary to your preconceived ideas. In order to help in the verification of the facts herein presented, I have illustrated this book with photographs taken in situ, drawings and plans according to actual, careful surveys, made by me, of the monuments. The accuracy of said drawings and plans can be easily proved on the photographs themselves. I have besides given many references whose correctness it is not difficult to ascertain.
This is not a book of romance or imagination; but a work —