Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/49

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


INTRODUCTION.

ORIGIN OF THE NAME MAYACH.



The country known to-day as Yucatan, one of the states of the Mexican confederacy, may indeed be justly regarded by the ethnologist, the geologist, the naturalist, the philologist, the archæologist, and the historian as a most interesting field of study. Its area of seventy-three thousand square miles, covered with dense forests, is literally strewn with the ruins of numerous antique cities, majestic temples, stately palaces, the work of learned architects, now heaps of débris crumbling under the inexorable tooth of time and the impious hand of iconoclastic collectors of relics for museums. Among these the statues of priests and kings, mutilated and defaced by the action of the elements, the hand of time and that of man, lie prostrate in the dust. Walls covered with bas-reliefs, inscriptions and sculptures carved in marble, containing the panegyrics of rulers, the history of the nation, its cosmogonical traditions, the ancient religious rites and observances of its