Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/86

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antiquity, in Asia, Africa, Europe, as well as in America, always with the same meaning, should be sufficient to prove that in very remote ages the Mayas had intimate relations with the inhabitants of the lands situated on those continents, were therefore great travellers, and must, perforce, have been acquainted with the general geography of the planet.

We must not lose sight of the fact that we know but very little indeed of the ancient American civilizations. The annals of the learned men of Mayach having been either hidden or destroyed, it is impossible for us to judge of the scope of their scientific attainments. That they were expert architects, the monuments built by them, that have resisted for ages the disintegrating action of the elements and that of vegetation, bear ample testimony. The analysis of the gnomon discovered by the writer in the ruins of the ancient city of Mayapan, in 1880, proves conclusively that they had made advance in the science of astronomy. They knew, as well as we do, how to calculate the latitudes and longitudes; the epochs of the solstices and of the equinoxes; the division of time into solar years of three hundred and sixty-five days and six hours: that of the year into twelve months of thirty days, to which they added five supplementary days that were left without name and regarded as inauspicious. During these, as on the third day of the Epact among the Egyptians, all business was suspended; they did not even go out of their houses, lest some misfortune should befall them. All those calculations required, of course, a thorough knowledge of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and the other branches of mathematics. That they were no mean draughtsmen and sculptors, the fresco paintings, the inscriptions and bas-reliefs carved on marble, that are still extant, bear unimpeachable testimony.