Page:Queen Moo and the Egyptian Sphinx.djvu/93

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lxiii
INTRODUCTION.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the northern frontier of the Maya Empire, and, if carried overland on the south until it intersect the seaboard of the Bay of Honduras, the segment of the circle thus formed resembles the bottom of a calabash, and the peninsula the sprout.

Analyzing the character yet more closely, we see a line of dots on each side of the base of the sprout, the root of which is made to repose on the curled figure curled figure intended to represent the curling of the smoke as it ascends into the air from the crater of the volcanoes among the mountains, indicated, as on our maps, by the etchings on both sides of the body of the symbol. These tokens prove that the designer knew the geological formation of the country in which he lived; and that the peninsula had been upheaved from the bottom of the sea by the action of volcanic forces, whose centre of activity was in his time, as it still is, in the mountains of Guatemala, far away in the interior of the continent. By placing the small end of the sprout deep into the figure on the focus of the volcanic action, on the curling line of the smoke, and by the dots, on both sides of the root of the sprout, he shows that he knew that the upheaval of the peninsula was effected by the expansive force of the gases, which produce earthquakes by their pressure on the uneven under surface of the superficial strata, too homogeneous to permit their escape. [1]

Thus it is that we come to learn from the pen of an ancient Maya philosopher that the name of his people, once upon a time so broadly scattered over the face of the earth, had its

  1. Sir Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, chap. xxxii., xxxiii. Augustus Le Plongeon, "The Causes of Earthquakes," Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine, vol. 6, Nos. 41, 42.