March’s featured text
IN recent years a reawakening has taken place in the study of American archæology and antiquities, owing chiefly to the labours of a band of scholars in the United States and a few enthusiasts in the continent of Europe. For the greater part of the nineteenth century it appeared as if the last word had been written upon Mexican archæology. The lack of excavations and exploration had cramped the outlook of scholars, and there was nothing for them to work upon save what had been done in this respect before their own time. The writers on Central America who lived in the third quarter of the last century relied on the travels of Stephens and Norman, and never appeared to consider it essential that the country or the antiquities in which they specialised should be examined anew, or that fresh expeditions should be equipped to discover whether still further monuments existed relating to the ancient peoples who raised the teocallis of Mexico and the huacas of Peru. True, the middle of the century was not altogether without its Americanist explorers, but the researches of these were performed in a manner so perfunctory that but few additions to the science resulted from their labours. . . .
It is usual to speak of America as "a continent without a history." The folly of such a statement is extreme. For centuries prior to European occupation Central America was the seat of civilisations boasting a history and a semi-historical mythology second to none in richness and interest. It is only because the sources of that history are unknown to the general reader that such assurance upon the lack of it exists.