Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/55

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INTRODUCTION.

much enigmas as they are to-day. Still travellers and scientists are not wanting who pretend that these strange buildings were constructed by the same race now inhabiting the peninsula or by their near ancestors [1] — regardless of Cogolludo's assertion[2] "that it is not known who their builders were, and that the Indians themselves preserved no traditions on the subject;" unmindful, likewise, of these words of Lizana: "That when the Spaniards came to this country, notwithstanding that some of the monuments appeared new, as if they had been built only twenty years, the Indians did not live in them, but used them as temples and sanctuaries, offering in them sacrifices, sometimes of men, women, and children; and that their construction dated back to a very high antiquity." [3]

The historiographer par excellence of Yucatan, Cogolludo, informs us that in his day — the middle of the seventeenth century — scarcely a little more than one hundred years after the Conquest, the memory of these adulterated traditions was already fading from the mind of the aborigines. "Of the people who first settled in this kingdom of Yucathan," he says, "nor of their ancient history, have I been able to find any more data than those I mention here." [4]

The books and other writings of the chroniclers and historians, from the Spanish conquest to our times, should therefore be considered well-nigh valueless, so far as the history of the primitive inhabitants of the country, the events that transpired in remote ages, and ancient traditions in general are

  1. John L. Stephens, Incidents of Travels in Yucatan, vol. ii., p. 458. Désiré Charnay, North American Review, April, 1882.
  2. Diego Lopez de Cogolludo, Historia de Yucathan, lib. iv., chap, iii., p. 177.
  3. Lizana, Historia de Nuestra Señora de Ytzamal, chap. ii.
  4. Cogolludo, Historia de Yucathan, lib. iv., chap, iii., p. 177.