Page:Travels in Mexico and life among the Mexicans.djvu/103

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
95
MAYAPAN, THE ANCIENT EMPIRE.

present town of Ocosingo, in Chiapas. And if we may place credence in that perhaps mythical "sacred book" of the Quiches called the Ah-Tza, the Itzaes (Ah Tzaes), present inhabitants of Peten, are lineal descendants of the dwellers in Xibalba. Although traces of three distinct immigrations into Yucatan are evident,—the Itzaes, Mayas, and Caribs,—yet they all spoke one tongue, the Maya, at the coming of the Spaniards. The Itzaes founded cities in the northeastern portion of the peninsula, found in ruins to-day: Chichen-Itza, Itzamel, and T'ho, the site of the last occupied by the capital city of Merida.

In the fifth and sixth centuries the Mayas came, followed by the Tutul Xius. The former founded Mayapan, and the latter settled themselves in the region of which Uxmal is the centre. In the strifes that ensued between the Itzaes and Mayas, the latter attained to prominence and ruled the country, while the former retired to Chichen. The head of the ruling family was one Cocom, from whom descended the princes of Mayapan. The increasing importance of the Tutul Xius so alarmed the Maya ruler that he imported troops from Tabasco; but a century later the dreaded residents of Uxmal marched upon Mayapan, and, after a long and bloody struggle, razed it to the ground. About this time the Itzaes, who seem to have been of a more peaceful nature, abandoned their city of Chichen and buried themselves in the vast forests of Guatemala. We shall meet with them again. These events happened in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1446, it is chronicled. King Cocom of Mayapan, with all his sons save one, was murdered by his nobles. Less than a century later the Spaniards became lords of the peninsula, and found Mayapan in ruins. It had been destroyed by the murderers of Cocom. Stephens, who visited Yucatan forty years ago, found among the ruins a great circular mound, and some sculptured stones, but of their origin and significance he was ignorant. It was left for another explorer. Dr. Augustus Le Plongeon, to complete the work of investigation. From his latest report to the American Antiquarian Society,—yet in manuscript when this was written,—the following details of his discoveries at Mayapan are gathered.