Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/575

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

three of his so-called half-prisms, of such size as to take a beam two and one quarter inches in diameter, and is nearly six feet long. The whole cost of the telescope and spectroscope was $26,000, which was provided by the generosity of Robert Bonner, R. L. Stuart, and other friends of science and the college. The observatory itself, of which the corner-stone was laid sixteen years ago, has been newly fitted up for its occupant. A gas-engine furnishes the power for moving the dome and working the shutters, and it also drives an Edison dynamo electric machine which provides a powerful current to be used for lighting purposes, or to supply the spectra of gases and metals to be compared with the spectra of the stars.


American Archæological Researches.—The third annual report of the Archæological Institute of America reviews the work that has been pursued by the agents of the institute in archæological explorations in New Mexico and Mexico, and in the excavations at the ancient Greek city of Assos, and includes the first report of the committee on the American school of classical studies at Athens. Mr. Bandelier, who had been exploring in New Mexico in the service of the institute, spent some time in Mexico, first at Cholula, where he studied the history of the city and the manners and customs, the habits and superstitions, and the domestic architecture of the present native Indian inhabitants. He inquired into the origin and character of the ancient Mexican deity Quetzal-Chohuatl, and the significance of the myth attached to his name, and made a study of the great pyramid of Cholula. The latter, he declares, is not entitled to be called a pyramid, but is only a huge mound, some two hundred feet high, which originally covered an area of about sixty acres, and now presents the appearance of three distinct terraces, surrounding and supporting a conical hill, very wide, and much overgrown with shrubbery. It is constructed of materials precisely similar to those which make up the plain on which it stands, and appears not to have been all erected at one time, but to be the accumulation of successive periods of labor. Mr. Bandelier believes that the structure was designed to hold immense communal buildings, like those at Pecos, in New Mexico, but in size approaching the great edifices at Palenque and Uxmal, and all built around a vast court, in the center of which stood an enormous "worship-mound," and that it was built by the Toltecs, or Mayas. Mr. Bandelier also visited Mitla, where he secured accurate plans and measurements of the most important buildings, thirty-nine in number. The so-called palaces are not greatly different from the pueblos of New Mexico, and are described as built and ornamented without any knowledge of mechanical contrivances, dark and imperfectly ventilated, and only a "barbaric effort of a barbarous people." His conclusion, drawn from the shape and size of the single apartments, is that they were not intended for every-day abodes, but only as shelters at night and in bad weather, and retreats for the women and children during a hostile attack—communal structures, differing from the similar constructions of other Indian tribes "only in so far as the exigencies of a different climate or of varying resources demanded." M. Louis H. Aymé, United States consul at Merida, has entered into a contract to explore, as agent of the institute, such places in Yucatan as have not recently been examined by Dr. Le Plongeon or M. Charnay. The ruins of Yucatan have suffered great destruction during the forty years since they were visited by Stephens.


The American Association.—The thirtyfirst annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science will be held at Montreal, beginning August 23d, under the presidency of Principal J. W. Dawson, LL. D., F. R, S., of McGill University. The headquarters of the association will be at McGill University, where members will register as soon as possible after their arrival. The hotel headquarters will be at the Windsor Hotel. The offices of the local committee and of the permanent secretary will be at the university. The general sessions and the meetings of the sections and committees will all be held in the university buildings. The permanent secretary, Professor F. W. Putnam, may be addressed at Salem, Massachusetts, till August 17th, after which his address will be at the Windsor Hotel, Montreal, Canada.