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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/642

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lakes, with bottoms of cemented stones; and the traces of a very ancient paved road have been found in Yucatan. Charnay found the country in Yucatan covered with ruins from north to south; and Stephens, about 1840, visited forty-four ruined cities or places, in which remains of buildings were still found, most of which were unknown to white men, even to those inhabiting the country. The remains of Mayapan, the ancient capital of the Mayas, are scattered over a broad plain, and are characterized by a mound sixty feet high with a base a hundred feet square, the summit of which, a stone platform fifteen feet square, was reached by four stairways twenty-five feet wide. Another building is of stone, and circular, and stands on a sloping foundation thirty-five feet high. Near it are two rows of capitals, without columns.

The ruins of Uxmal are pronounced by Stephens, who explored them thoroughly, worthy to stand side by side with those of Egyptian and Roman art. The most important building, the Casa del Gobernador, is three hundred and twenty feet long, and was built of hewed stone laid in mortar or cement, and bore a cornice which was decorated all around with "one solid mass of rich, complicated, and elaborately sculptured ornaments." It stands on a foundation of three terraces, altogether forty-two feet high, the lowest of which was five hundred and seventy-five feet long. The remains of Chichen-Itza are similar to those of Uxmal. In one building the walls of the rooms are covered with picture-writing; and figures of serpents are a frequent ornament. At Ake, thirty-six columns, in three parallel rows, are all that remain of a once magnificent structure.

At Palenque, Captain del Rio found, in 1787, ruins extending seven or eight leagues one way and half a league the other, and visited and described fourteen edifices admirably built of hewed stone. The largest known building is two hundred and twenty-eight feet long, one hundred and eighty wide, and twenty-five feet high, built entirely of hewed stone, laid with admirable precision in excellent mortar, and it stood on a much larger terrraced pyramidal foundation. A corridor nine feet high, and roofed by a pointed arch, went round the building on the outside; and this was separated from another within of equal width. Other buildings are nearly as remarkable. Tablets, with elegantly carved inscriptions, are plentiful; and of the sculptured human figures Stephens says that "in justness of proportion and symmetry they must have approached the Greek models."

The four palaces, as Dupaix calls them, at Mitla, are said by him to have been "erected with lavish magnificence.... They combine the solidity of the works of Egypt with the elegance of those of Greece. But what is most remarkable, interesting, and striking in these monuments," he adds, "and which alone would be sufficient to give them the first rank among all known orders of architecture, is the execution of their mosaic rilievos, very different from plain mosaic,