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Title: Prehistoric Structures of Central America - Who Erected Them?
Author: Townsend, Martin I. (Martin Ingham), 1810-1903
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note

A number of typographical errors have been maintained in this version of
this book. They have been marked with a [TN-#], which refers to a
description in the complete list found at the end of the text.
Inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation have been maintained. A list
of inconsistently spelled and hyphenated words is found at the end of
the text.








  TROY, N. Y.:


It was not a long period after 1492, when the great Italian navigator
with his Spanish crew made their first discoveries upon the central
portion of America, that the Europeans, who had followed the footsteps
of Christopher Columbus, began to fall in with structures of great
magnitude and architectural beauty scattered widely throughout Mexico,
Guatemala and Yucatan, &c.; and when the conquest of Peru was achieved,
artificial highways and water courses were found there, such as could
have owed their existence to no people but one with advanced knowledge
of science as well as of the arts of civilized life. No people existed
then upon this continent capable of doing the work which so astonished
the world.

Thinking men and dreaming men have, from the earliest of these
discoveries, been busying themselves to find out when, and by what
people, these early monuments to human efforts were constructed.

Norwegian discoverers and Welsh emigrants have been pressed into the
service. Our own Donnelly has changed the place where God and history
had located the origin of the human race in the valley of the Tigris and
Euphrates, to a suppositious island in the Atlantic Ocean, and led out
the nations of the earth from there to Asia, Africa and western Europe,
until he had no further need of the island and then sunk it in “the
bottom of the sea.”

A whole people have been pressed into the service of explaining this
mystery. The convenient “Lost ten tribes of the House of Israel” have
been set to do this work, as their fathers were compelled to “make brick
without straw” in the Land of Egypt, and then suffered to escape to some
land where search for them would be in vain.

The following treatise is written for the purpose of showing--

FIRST.--That the lands where these structures exist were known to
commercial people and to many of the scholars of the countries about the
Mediterranean Sea for at least a thousand years before the Christian

SECOND.--That these discoveries were made by the people of Phœnecia,
originally located on the eastern border of the Mediterranean Sea, and
by their colonies settled about Carthage in Africa, and throughout Spain
and Portugal up to the Ebro; and who traversed every ocean almost as
thoroughly as have their Anglo Saxon successors for the past four
hundred years.

THIRD.--That the origin of the people who made these structures is
shown, to absolute certainty, by the character of the architecture and
by the character of the religious belief exhibited upon the temples
which were erected to Baal, or Moloch, i. e. the Sun, who was their God,
who was worshiped by the immolation of their infant children upon his

This is proven as fully by the carvings and frescoes in Mexico and
Guatemala, and by the stone circle of Sillustani, in the high country of
Peru, and the figures inscribed upon the great entrance to the cemetery
of Tiahuanuco in the same region, as if a thousand witnesses arose from
the dead and testified before us.



In the earlier existence of the Greek and Roman peoples, knowledge was
extremely limited. These peoples were without any mode of perpetuating
or transmitting knowledge until the days, a little more than a thousand
years before the Christian Era, when Cadmus brought from Phœnecia the
letters which had been invented and adopted there for the representation
and expression of articulate sounds; and by the combination of these
letters to transmit and perpetuate human ideas. There is scarce a race
of savages in our day where the mass of the body politic are as
profoundly ignorant as were the great body of the Greek people a
thousand years before Christ.

Even those men who made such acquisitions of knowledge as were possible
in that day, could only learn from the lips of their imperfectly trained
teacher, and by travel to those countries which the barbarous condition
of the world allowed them to visit; and even after the learned men of
the Greek Islands came to know the power of letters, how small must have
been the amount of knowledge existing in the world, and how slow must
have been its spread amongst the untaught commonalty of the then Greek
world? In the day when the Phœnician ship Argo made a voyage to
Colchis, at the east end of the Black Sea, it so fired the imagination
of the Greek poets that they dreamed of the voyage and composed poems
about it for centuries.

Indeed it was not until the Romans, just before the Christian Era, had
subdued all the borders of the historic Mediterranean Sea, that free
intercourse amongst the inhabitants prevailed. Up to that period every
people, as a rule, carefully guarded all knowledge of their own wealth,
and of their own acts and possessions from the rest of mankind, instead
of making public expositions to attract the attention of the outside
world to their useful achievements, and they sometimes passed laws for
inflicting the severest punishments upon citizens who should reveal to
the outside world the locations, nature, or extent, or value of their

Still, we glean from the ancient writers the following announcements.

1. That ancient book entitled “The Book of Wonders,” ascribed to
Aristotle, contains the following: “When the Carthagenians, who were
masters of the western ocean, observed that many traders and other men,
attracted by the fertility of the soil and the pleasant climate, had
fixed there their homes, they feared that the knowledge of this land
should reach other nations, a great concourse to it of men from the
various lands of the earth would follow, that the conditions of life,
then so happy on that island, would not only be unfavorably affected,
but the Carthagenian Empire itself suffer injury, and the dominion of
the sea be wrested from their hands; and so they issued a decree that no
one, under penalty of death, should thereafter sail thither.” This
passage is quoted, not merely with a claim that it refers to the
Continent of America, but for the purpose of showing how carefully the
Phœnician people, whether Asiatic, Carthagenian, or Spanish, guarded
from the great world the foreign discoveries which they had made, and
where their kindred were enjoying prosperity; and to enable us to see
how little likely their discoveries would be to come to the knowledge of
the great mass of mankind.

2. Let us look for a moment at some of the things which the ancient
Greek and Latin authors have said indicating their knowledge of the
existence of a western continent. Crates, a commentator on Homer, is
quoted by authority of Strabo, a very learned author of the century
before Christ, as saying that Homer means in his account of the western
Ethiopians the inhabitants of the Atlantis or the Hesperides, as the
unknown world of the west was then variously called.

3. Pliny also 6: 31-36, locates the western Ethiopians somewhere in the
Atlantic. This shows that Crates and Pliny believed that the great poet
Homer believed in the existence of a great continent on the western
shore of the Atlantic ocean.

4. Plato says in his Timaeus, Chapter VI.: “The sea” (the Atlantic
ocean), “was indeed navigable and had an island fronting the mouth which
you in your tongue call the Pillars of Hercules, and this island is
larger than Libya and Asia put together, and there is a passage hence
for travelers of that day to the rest of the islands, as well as from
those islands to the whole opposite continent that surrounds the real

5. Humboldt quotes that Anaxagoras, who was born five hundred years
B. C., and was a most eminent Greek philosopher, speaks of the grand
division of the world beyond the ocean.

6. Aelian in his Variæ Historiæ, Book 3, Chapter 18, cites Theopompus,
an eminent Greek historian, born about three hundred years B. C., as
stating that the Meropians inhabit a large continent beyond the ocean,
in comparison with which the known world was but an island.

7. Aristotle says in Chapters 84 and 85: “Beyond the Pillars of
Hercules, they say that an inhabited island was discovered by the
Carthagenians, which abounded in forests and navigable rivers and fruits
of all kinds, distant from the continent many days’ sail. And while the
Carthagenians were engaged in making voyages to this land, and some had
even settled there on account of the fertility of the soil, the Senate
decreed that no one thereafter, under penalty of death, should voyage
thither.” Aristotle was born three hundred and eighty-four years before

8. Diodorus of Sicily, who lived in the century preceding the Christian
Era, says in his Book 5,--19 and 20, that it was the “Phœnicians
instead of the Carthagenians who were cast upon a most fertile island
opposite Africa, where the climate was that of perpetual spring, and
that the land was the proper habitation for gods rather than men.”

He speaks of the continent, however, at length and with great detail,
enumerating its fertile valleys and navigable rivers, its rich and
abundant fruits and supply of game, its valuable forests and its genial

9. Pliny quotes Statius Sebosus, in his volume 2, page 106, Bohn, as
saying that _the two Hesperides are forty-two days’ sail from the coast
of Africa_.


The prophet Isaiah, writing soon after seven hundred and fifty years
before Christ, in the twenty-third chapter of his prophecy, gives us a
pretty good idea of the unlimited commerce and the unlimited prosperity
of the merchants of Tyre. Among other things he says the following,
speaking of the City “_Whose antiquity is of ancient days_.” He calls
the City “The Crowning City,” “whose merchants are princes, whose
traffickers are the honorable of the earth.” The wealth and luxury of
Tyre was eternally injurious to the Jewish people from the time of their
return from Egypt to Canaan to the carrying away of Israel to Babylon in
the later days. The Jewish husbandman, dazzled by the luxuries of Tyre
and Sidon, was affected as those in more moderate circumstances are in
later days, by the manners and customs of their rich neighbors, and were
building groves in high places under which to worship, as did the
priests of Baal in Palestine, and under the oaks in the northwest of
Europe, where they acquired the name of Druids. They forsook the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and worshipped Baal and Ashtaroth and Astarte,
the Phœnician Venus.

They even sacrificed their children to Moloch, the relentless fire god,
as Baal appeared in his sterner characteristics. But upon the loss of
wealth which Phœnicia sustained in the wars with Nebuchadnezzar and
subsequently with Alexander, the Phœnicians ceased to be conspicuously
wealthy and luxurious, and Israel was left to worship that God who
called their father Abraham from upper Chaldea, and who afterwards
brought him out of the “House of Bondage” in Egypt after having been
four hundred years enslaved there.

We have now glanced at the widespread influence of the Phœnician
people over the borders of the Mediterranean sea and over the west and
northwest of Europe.

Let it be remembered that what we have said upon this subject is founded
upon authentic evidence from ancient history and modern fact.

Let us look for a moment now and see what these peoples accomplished
through the waters of the Red sea and upon the waters easterly of the
straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. After Solomon had associated with Hiram, King
of Tyre, and Hiram, the son of Abif, the chief of the mechanics who
built the temple, and become acquainted with the wealth brought home by
Phœnician ships from the great outside world, his spirit of Jewish
thrift was excited, and he determined to share in the profits of
nautical adventures. In the first book of Kings, chapter 9, verses 26,
27 and 28, we find the following: “And King Solomon made a navy of ships
in Ezion Geber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red Sea, in
the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen who
had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.

“And they came to Ophir and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and
twenty talents, and brought it to King Solomon.” In the 18th chapter of
this book, 11th and 12th verses, we find the following: “And the navy
also of Hiram that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great
plenty of almug trees and precious stones, and the king made of the
almug trees pillars for the house of the lord and for the king’s house,
harps also and psalteries for the singers. There came no such almug
trees nor were seen unto this day.”

In the Second of Chronicles, chapter 9, verses 10 and 11, we find the
following: “And the servants also of Hiram and the servants of Solomon,
which brought gold from Ophir, brought algum trees and precious stones,
and the king made of the algum trees terraces to the house of the lord
and to the king’s palace, and harps and psalteries for the singers, and
there were none such seen before in the land of Judah.”

In Second Kings, chapter 10, verse 22, we find the following: “For the
king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram. Once in
three years came the navy of Tharshish bringing gold and silver, ivory
and apes and peacocks.” This navy of Tharshish is beyond question the
navy of big ships manned by Jews and Phœnicians, and the expression
here used beyond question is used in the sense we should use in speaking
of a navy of big ships, or Baltimore Clippers.

In Second Chronicles, chapter 3, verse 6, we find the following: “And he
garnished the house with precious stones for beauty, and the gold was
gold of Parvaim.”

We will not at the present time stop to ask where was Ophir, where was
Parvaim, where did the sailors of Tyre, so skilled in navigation and so
capable of navigating the western ocean, as we have seen them to be, as
to make successful voyages over to the Orkneys, a distance of some four
thousand miles from their homes, spend the three years during which they
were absent on their voyages from the easterly gulf of the Red Sea? No
Jewish lexicon tells us of almug or algum trees; no Hebrew writer
undertakes to describe them. But that enterprising publicist, O’Donovan,
who for the purposes of knowledge a few years ago traversed the
Caucasus, crossed the Caspian sea and buried himself for two or three
years among the still wild tribes of Turkestan, tells us that after his
liberation from the Turks, and while traveling in eastern Persia towards
the capital, he found a tree which attracted his attention because its
fibre reminded him of that of the Lignum Vitæ, which tree the natives
called “The Yalgam.” Here we have Solomon’s algum tree with the name
scarcely modified. Would it be the strangest thing that ever happened
if these “yalgam,” “almug,” or “algum” trees, so beautiful as to be
unequalled by anything known in Palestine, and for that reason set up as
ornaments in God’s house, should turn out in the day when all things
become known to be rosewood and mahogany from the west coast of Central
America, taken on board by Solomon’s servants on their return from
Parvaim or Peru and the old mines of Potosi, where they had gone for the
gold which filled the coffers of Solomon. It may be said that such would
be a long voyage; true, but not much longer than a voyage to the
Orkneys. Authentic profane history tells us that between six and seven
hundred years before the birth of Christ, Pharaoh Necho, King of Egypt,
built a fleet in the Red Sea, manned it with Phœnician sailors and
sent them out upon the waters to discover the shape and dimensions of
the continent of Africa. These sailors passed down through the straits
of Bab et Mandel and clear around the Cape of Good Hope and the
continent of Africa more than two thousand years before Vasco Degama,
and coming in through the straits of Gibraltar after an absence of about
two years. Their food supply run low, their supply was mainly wheat,
they tied up their ships, landed, plowed the ground with sharpened
sticks, cast their bread, not upon the waters, but upon the ground, and
thus raised a new crop of wheat, preparing to supply their wants until
they should return to Egypt, that eternal land of plenty.

It will be remembered that for centuries previous to the close of the
Punic wars under Hannibal the Phœnician people owned and controlled
the whole north of Africa, west of Egypt, and the whole of Spain up to
the Ebro, and the whole of Cyprus and a very large portion of Sicily,
and that when the ancient writers, and even modern writers speak of
Spain, the Carthagenians and northern Africa, they refer to the people
who sprang from the commercial cities on the eastern shore of the
Mediterranean sea, occupying a territory of not more than one hundred
miles in extent north and south, and extending back into Syria not more
than fifteen miles, whence all these people sprang, and applied to them
the general term of Phœnicians.

From the authorities we have quoted we think there can be no doubt but
that here and there a learned man among the Greek scholars had come to
believe that some eastern navigator had discovered a western world
exceedingly productive and beautiful, and that a population of eastern
origin had sprung up and existed in the lands so discovered.


Nineveh and Babylon are never spoken of as having sent even a keel boat
out upon the seas. Egypt has been called the “Cradle of The Arts” and
the “Birthplace of Science and Civilization,” but Egypt never attained
the maritime power or skill to enable her to navigate the waters of the
Mediterranean beyond the mouths of her eternal river.

Greece, afterwards so celebrated for science, art and philosophy, was at
the day of which Homer sung, a mere association of savage groups,
engaged in wars instead of seeking commercial profits in distributing
the products of civilized life among the nations of mankind.

And Romulus and Remus had not yet emerged from the sheep folds upon the
Italian hills. But very early in the history of the world, and as
students of history believe, earlier than the call of Abraham, the
interests of mankind had called into existence along the eastern shore
of the Mediterranean Sea an active and intelligent population which had
engaged in commerce as a means of subsistence, and were carrying it on
with such success as was possible in the then condition of the world of
mankind. A civilization had sprung up at a very early period along the
banks of the united rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, and from the
Persian gulf to Nineveh and Nimroud, where was produced a great variety
of articles of necessity and luxury unknown to the rest of the world.
We all understand the story told of Aehan, who secreted in the floor of
his tent a Babalonish garment about fourteen hundred years before the
Christian era, while Israel was battling against Ai[TN-2] See Joshua,
Chap. 8. The children of Japhet had passed up through Persia to the
Caucasus, and from the Caucasus around the Black Sea to the waters of
the Danube and the Grecian Islands. The luxuries produced in the valley
of the Euphrates and the Tigris, called Mesopotamia, furnished a ready
basis for a successful commerce across the desert by the way of Damascus
to the shores of the Mediterranean; and it was by this means that a
commerce sprang up along these shores such as the world had never seen,
and which rendered the people resident there the leaders in all the arts
of life, including the art of navigation, throughout the then known
world, a result but twice paralleled on earth, once in the middle ages
at Venice and once in our own age at our magical Chicago. This enabled
this people to become the leaders of their race down to about six
hundred years before Christ, when there came that terrible war wherein
Nebuchadnezzar, by besieging Tyre, caused “every head of that people to
become bald and every shoulder to become pealed.”[TN-3] Tyre subsisted
after the siege of Nebuchadnezzar, but Tyre never attained again the
prosperity or influence which she possessed at the commencement of this
memorable siege. She had before this time planted two hundred and fifty
cities upon the north coast of Africa, including the celebrated city of
Carthage. She had settled and occupied two hundred cities in the
territory of Spain, and for centuries occupied the whole of that country
up to the Ebro. The Jewish historians speak of Spain as Tharshish. Greek
writers speak of Spain as Tartesus. Jewish historians and prophets
speak of the ships of Tharshish as the most magnificent sea-going crafts
known to the world, as we for half of a century boasted of our Baltimore
Clipper. Her sailors passed beyond the Pillars of Hercules and passed up
the northwest coast of France and established their religion, the
worship of Baal, or the sun, among the simple people of Bretagne so
firmly and universally that at this day at Carnac, in the Morbihan,
there stand more Phœnician funereal monuments of unknown antiquity
than can be found together in any form of religion in any other portion
of the world’s surface. They discovered tin in the Scilly Islands, off
the coast of Cornwall, and wrought those mines for centuries. Those
Islands were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as the
Cassiterrides, or Tin Islands. They worked both tin and copper mines in
Cornwall, and made profits on the sale of the products throughout the
known world. They passed up the British channel and through the German
Ocean, and in the immense sand dunes at the mouth of the Baltic
discovered and utilized that beautiful product of the primeval forests
called amber, which they dug from the sand hills. They took with them
their priests (the priests of Baal) and introduced the worship of the
sun, and made that worship paramount and universal in England, Ireland
and Scotland, as well as in Bretagne and the northwest of France. So
thoroughly has the religion of Baal been fastened upon the peoples of
these regions that portions of them at this day salute the arrival of
the Summer Solstice, June twenty-fourth, with burning fires, the precise
meaning of which is forgotten, but through those fires in all the early
portions of the present century the inhabitants have jumped with their
little ones in their arms, as the phrase goes, on Saint John’s eve,
“for luck.” The wizard of the north, Sir Walter Scott, in his song
entitled “Hail to the Chief,” in the Lady of the Lake, has the following
when speaking of “Clan Alpines Pine”:

    “Ours is no saplin,
    Chance sown by the fountain,
    Blooming at Beltane,” (Baaltime)
    “In winter to fade.”

Indeed the literary men of Scotland very generally call the Summer
Solstice the Beltane. One of the finest of the smaller towns in England
even to this day bears the name of Belper, (i. e. Baalpeor.)

They built that wonderful prehistoric open air temple, still standing
upon Salsbury Plain, and bearing the name of Stonehenge, the most
wonderful monument now standing upon the earth’s surface. They built
several other circular open air temples in the British Islands, and
conspicuously among them, away up in the Orkneys, above Scotland, a very
perfect and beautiful one called the “Standing Stones of Stennes.”

They visited the Azore Islands, west of Gibraltar, out in the Atlantic
ocean, and as we learn by Chateaubriand’s Outretombe, Phœnician coin
in the last century was found scattered in the soil of these Islands. A
man who carries his eyes about him will rarely enter a large Irish
assembly, or an assembly of Canadian Frenchmen whose blood comes
principally from Bretagne, without noticing here and there a swarthy
complexion surrounding intensely bright flashing eyes which speak of
Spain and Carthage and the blood of warmer climes.

About one thousand years before Christ, Solomon, the Prince of Israel,
resolved to build a temple to the God of Abraham which should exhibit on
Mount Zion architectural skill and beauty such as the world had never
seen. The construction of that erection was intrusted entirely to the
people of Phœnicia; everything was perfected at Tyre so completely
that “no hammer or instrument of iron sounded upon the building” after
its component parts reached the Mount of God. Even the basins that were
to be used in the Lord’s house were constructed by the artizans of



The soil, climate and productions of the Peninsula of Yucatan, and that
part of Mexico and Guatemala where these prehistoric remains are found,
are precisely what are described by the European writers who speak of
the beauty, the loveliness and the grandeur of the Hesperides and the
homes founded by eastern adventurers beyond the western ocean.


The prehistoric structures found in those regions and in neighboring
regions are all built on plans and patterns borrowed from lands
bordering the Mediterranean Sea, although the structures seem to have
followed verbal descriptions rather than exact mechanical patterns.

All of these structures north of Panama seem to have been erected for
public purposes, and probably in connection with the offices of some
form of religion; and every structure of them, of which any appreciable
portion is standing, is built upon or in connection with pyramids as
perfectly pyramidal and regularly constructed as were the pyramids of
ancient Egypt. Most of these pyramids, however, are mere earth mounds,
instead of being constructed of brick or stone as were those upon the
banks of the Nile. Let us refer to a few of the localities where these
pyramidal structures are most conspicuous.

At Copan, situate at the western border of Honduras, and by the side of
the river Copan, is a large enclosure, some two miles in extent, bounded
upon the one side by the Copan river, on the bank of which are walls of
beautiful cut and fitted stone rising to the height of fifty to one
hundred feet, designed to keep the earth upon that side of the river
from being carried away by floods. This river at this place constitutes
one side of a tract of land laid out nearly in a square, along the outer
sides of which, at regular intervals, are constructed, and still
remaining, a very large number of pyramids made of hewn stone evidently
designed to outline this extended sacred field.

This field within, is ornamented with a wealth of statuary, monuments
and figures of idols, practically inconceivable in amount; but we count
this statuary of no importance now, as we are confining our attention to
the tendency of this prehistoric people to erect pyramids. For a fuller
account of this locality we refer to Stephens’ Travels in Central
America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Vol. 1, Chap. 8.

At Santa Cruz Del Quiche, within the State of Chiapas, Mexico, there
exists a pyramid erected for defensive purposes, constructed of earth
and terraced as it rises, of enormous proportions; upon its top is a
regular fortification upon the top of which rises a pyramidal temple
above the fortification. This structure is particularly described by
Stephens in the work above quoted, in his second volume, chapter 10,
page 161, &c.

At Occasingo in Chiapas, there is a conspicuous pyramid constructed of
earth, of somewhat exalted proportions, upon the top of which is a small
pyramidal temple having over its porch the ornamentation which is so
common upon the temples of ancient Egypt, and occasionally seen in the
land of Phœnicia, to wit: a winged globe wrought in stone. The globe
itself has become loosened, and has dropped from its place upon the
front of the temple but still rests upon the ground before it, while the
wing to which it was attached remains in place upon the temple as
perfect as when it was first wrought. For a description of these works
at Occasingo, see Stephens’ second volume, chapter 15, page 258, &c.

The same sort of pyramidal structures remain in admirable preservation
conspicuous at Palenque, in Chiapas, where an immense pyramid still
exists standing in great perfection with an elegant temple upon its top.
Pyramidal structures and shapings are found everywhere at Palenque. See
Stephens’ Work, above quoted, vol. 2, chap. 20, page 337, &c.

At Uxmal, also in Chiapas, we have another exhibition of pyramidal
structures with temples upon their tops. We refer again to the same work
of Stephens, vol. 2, chap. 25, page 420, &c.

These remains, to which we have referred, have far greater importance in
our investigation than can be attached to the mere building of pyramidal
structures. The wealth of sculpture found at the places referred to is
immensely great and deserves the attention of scholars and thinking men
to an extent greater than we can now devote to them.

In our view, the people who erected those structures possessed a
knowledge and civilization far in advance of the population that
surrounded them, and that the surrounding populations to a great degree
imitated their examples and adopted their religion.

That, as we believe, led to the construction at Cholula, a little town
now of ten thousand inhabitants, fifteen miles from Puebla, on the road
leading from Vera Cruz to Mexico, on the plains of Anahuac, at the
height of 6912 feet above the sea, of that immense pyramid of earth
still standing, 177 feet in height, measuring 1445 feet on either side,
and ascended by 120 steps.

There are two other pyramids at Otumba, seven leagues north-east of the
City of Mexico, and in the language of the aboriginal inhabitants,
called, one “The House of the Sun,” and the other, “The House of the
Moon.” The House of the Sun is 680 feet square at the base, and 221 feet

On the top of this there was originally erected a great statue of the
sun. The other pyramid is much smaller but rises to the height of 144
feet, and on its top was a statue of the moon. Upon the plain about
these structures are a number of smaller pyramids not necessary to be
described.--The sides of all the pyramids here constructed correspond
with the cardinal points of the compas.[TN-4] The pyramids that we have
referred to are all patterned after those constructed upon the banks of
the Nile, and are all found about the west border of Yucatan, about the
north border of Guatamala[TN-5] and south of the centre of the great
Republic of Mexico.

It will be well to remember that the mountains and plains of North
America cover millions of square miles north and east of the country
where these pyramids have been constructed, and that those mountains and
plains are covered in many places with earth mounds of an almost
inconceivable variety of forms, and yet the form of the pyramid seems
to be utterly unknown on the Western Continent, except in the narrow
region that we have delineated. We might, perhaps, be justified in
asking: From what people on earth could this building of pyramids be
copied except from those dwelling upon the banks of the Nile?


They were the worshipers of Baal, the god worshiped by the Phœnicians,
and paid their devotions to him with the same rites that they practiced
wherever their influence was effective.

It will be remembered that Baal was supposed to exist and was worshiped
as a being of biform existence. In his beneficent qualities, as the sun,
he was supposed to be the author and sustainer of all life and the
fountain of all pleasures. In his sterner character wherein he was known
as Moloch or Molech, by the children of Israel, he was the most cruel,
stern, relentless monster that the imagination of man ever depicted, and
his votaries everywhere sought to conciliate him by presenting him with
the most horrid scenes of human agony. Attempts were everywhere made to
conciliate him by laying human captives upon his altar, and for want of
captives taken in war, such peaceful citizens as the priests saw fit to

Human victims were constantly dying upon a thousand altars not only in
Phœnicia, but in all western and north-western Europe.

It was firmly believed by the votaries of Moloch that he could be most
readily conciliated by the offering of children upon the altars, that he
most especially delighted in the sacrifice of the first born of every
family. Men thus offering “the fruit of their bodies for the sin of
their souls.” Early in the history of this worship it was deemed
sufficient if children passed through the fires without the destruction
of their lives, but down the ages it came to be believed, that if a
family would secure the favor of this deity, the oldest child of each
union must be actually roasted to conciliate favor. Even good old
Abraham who had been called from upper Chaldea to receive all the land
of Israel for him and his seed forever, conceived the idea that God
required the roasting of the son of Sarah upon the hill of Zion, and
never relented until a ray of common sense enlightened his intellectual
vision, after he had actually bound Isaac to the altar.

We have referred to the beautiful monuments that still exist at Uxmal,
Palenque, Occasingo, Queche and Otumba, and to the temples and monuments
still standing there. Upon all these beautiful structures are engraved
in the living stone, or wrought in stucco, most striking representations
of the sun with a huge priest on either side, standing with arms
outstretched each holding in his hands a naked child offering it to the
relentless deity. The practice of burning human beings as offerings to
the sun existed very extensively down to the date of the Spanish
conquest. Showing that the same so-called religion which prevailed in
western Europe before the Roman conquest, was still paramount and
terribly enforced among these settlers in America, though so far removed
from the parent stock. We have spoken thus far of American remains which
are found north of the Isthmus of Panama, but there are still existing,
in the old land of Peru, structures which for thousands of years have
been telling the story of their origin.

There are all over this land of Peru remains not of palaces and temples,
but of roads and water-courses showing a mechanical skill such as
perhaps cannot be found in any part of the earth elsewhere as existing
as early as these must have been constructed.

The people who did this work are absolutely extinct. Many have supposed
that in the population of Central America there is still a remainder of
the blood of the people who once dwelt there, thus rendering the local
inhabitants in some degree superior to the aboriginal Indians of that
country. Not so in Peru. It is only from the structures which we find
and the conditions which attend them that, any evidence is found that
there ever was in Peru, any people superior to the dull Indians of the

The traditions of the country speak of one Manco Capac appearing in the
country at some indefinite period, and that he and his family
descendants were rulers for a long course of time, ruling and
controling[TN-6] the business and social life of the population of Peru.
That blood had been long extinct before the Spanish conquest.

Let us see for a moment whether anything remains to show what were the
religious ideas of Manco Capac, and those coming with and descended from
him. We find abundant remains of structures and carved columns in the
almost desert regions of Atacama, in the high lands of what is now
Bolivia, between Peru and Chili, between twelve and thirteen thousand
feet above the level of the sea. These structures and carved monuments
are largely gathered about the lake of Titicaca. At Sillustani on a
promontory extending into that lake, is constructed a stone circle as an
outdoor temple, standing more perfect to-day than Stonehenge or
Stennes, or the structures at Carnac in Bretagne. It is undoubtedly an
outdoor temple for the worship of the sun. See Squires’ Travels in the
Lands of Incas, page 384, &c.

This, taken by itself, might not prove to a certainty that this outdoor
temple was for the worship of the sun, but at Tiahuanuco, in the same
work, at page 288 to 292 inclusive, we have the whole story told as
plainly as it could be in a thousand printed volumes. Over the entrance
to a cemetery is a carved monolith, or single stone, on which is the
following described carving: Centrally over the gateway upon this
monolith is a well carved figure of the sun, and upon the right hand and
the left hand and below, are sculptured some fifty figures of beings
with human bodies, and the wings of angels as imagined and represented
in western Asia and in Europe. Half of the angels have human bodies,
angel wings and the heads of hawks. The Romans and the Greeks held
Mercury to be the god of eloquence and of wisdom.

Instead of furnishing him with the wings of the Asiatic angel, they
clothed his head in a cap close to the ears with wings extended from the
ears, and with other wings extended from his ankles.

It will be remembered that when Paul and Barnabas were upon their great
mission through Asia Minor, preaching the gospel, the people became very
much excited at Paul’s preaching at Lystra and Derbe, and believing that
the gods themselves had come to them, they called Barnabas, Jupiter, and
the orator Paul, Mercurius. See acts of the Apostles, Chap. 14, 12th

In the Egyptian economy, Thoth was worshiped as the god of wisdom and
eloquence, and represented as possessing a human body with a hawk’s
head. Both regions representing the hawk as the embodiment of wisdom
among the feathered creation. Here, at Tiahuanuco, we have the Greek and
Egyptian god of wisdom, furnished with the wings of the Asiatic angel,
and standing in eternal attendance upon the Phœnician sun god. All
these figures are perfect, as showing the ideas and intentions which led
to their construction, yet indicating in the roughness of the work that
they had been constructed by one who was without exact measurements,
probably without patterns, and without the means of obtaining either
measurements or patterns. In this cemetery at Tiahuanuco, one will find
a hundred structures so like the round towers upon the south coast of
Ireland as strongly to awaken one’s attention. So that, Manco Capac and
his descendants were not only sun worshipers but very strongly imbued
with the ideas which originated in the eastern and southern coasts of
the Mediterranean sea.

Thus we have seen that the prehistoric people who built the structures
in Central America and Mexico, which have in these later days filled the
civilized world with wonder and admiration, were constructed by a people
whose knowledge of science and the arts had reached the same point of
advancement as had been reached upon the banks of the Nile, and in the
cities of Phœnicia, for at least a thousand years before the Christian
era. That in the erection of these structures they had implicitely[TN-7]
followed the patterns, even to their ornamentation, of structures and
ornaments then known and adopted in ancient Egypt. That their religious
beliefs were identical with those which prevailed among the Phœnician
people upon the eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea, upon the coast
of north-western Africa and throughout the entire west and north-western
portions of Europe. They were sun worshipers, offering infants and full
grown human victims to appease the wrath and conciliate the favor of
their god. And we have farther seen that that strange people called the
Incas, built outdoor temples of standing stones, and upon the entrance
to their cemeteries engraved the effigies of the same god worshiped in
Central America, and in so large a portion of the eastern world.

So we think we may say, with entire confidence, that it was known to
many learned men in ancient times that there were settlements upon the
continent of America, and that the dreams of the Western Islands of the
Blest, and of the gardens of the Hesperides, rested upon most
substantial facts. Modern scholars, looking at the matter casually, have
allowed themselves to conclude that, because these discoveries were made
at a very early period in the history of the world, by a people who were
unable to build their ships according to the rules of modern science,
and were compeled[TN-8] to navigate stormy oceans without the aid of
steam, and probably without the aid of the mariner’s compass, could
never have navigated wide seas and stormy oceans.

But how baseless this idea is found to be, when we come to see how
easily and successfully the Phœnician people traversed northern, western
and eastern oceans, and brought home the products of the whole world to
enrich themselves and the peoples among whom Providence had fixed their
destinies! And how strangely such a suggestion sounds when addressed to
the understanding of peoples who have seen again and again the
boisterous Atlantic traversed from continent to continent by three men,
two men, and even a single man, in an open boat! So that the origin of
this people, who were so conspicuous at one time in Central America, is
certainly found to have been of the Phœnicians from Tyre, Sidon or
Aridas or from Tharshish or Carthage or the settlements towards the
west. The settlement of these countries must have been very early, and
their location must have been guarded by all the pains and penalties so
graphically described in the ancient authors which we have quoted.
Intercourse with Central America from the east must have ceased before
the discovery of letters, for nowhere that we have discovered throughout
the extent of the American settlements has a letter been found of any
form whether Cuniform, Greek, Roman, Hebrew or Phœnician. These western
settlers must have been entirely ignorant of Egyptian hieroglyphics, for
the figures upon their walls show the invention of a system of
hieroglyphics more complicated than anywhere else discovered, and which
no Champollion has yet been able to translate. The human mind was not
dormant here but its discoveries are utterly lost to mankind. It will be
asked what has become of this Central American population who wrought
the works in question? This can only be answered from conjecture. The
number of actual settlers from the east were doubtless few. In erecting
the structures which have been so much admired and wondered at, they
doubtless used the labors of untold thousands of the aboriginal
inhabitants, appealing perhaps to their fears and desires to conciliate
the favor of that God, whose terrors made the Phœnecian priests such
an irresistable[TN-9] power over the nations in the west and north of

But if for a moment superstition lost its terrors, this little flock of
more intelligent incomers were powerless to resist the avenging hands of
the million aboriginal barbarians. But we are not engaged in discussing
the mode in which this people became extinct, but choose to confine
ourselves to the questions, who were they, and where did they come from?
We say without hesitation, that when Columbus parted from Palos in
Spain, he sailed from a Phœnician city, in Phœnician vessels, manned by
Phœnician crews to rediscover worlds that the Phœnician ancestors of
these men had known and settled not less than three thousand years
before. We believe that traditions had always existed in Spain, whose
blood up to the Ebro is almost purely Phœnician, of these western worlds
discovered by their fathers. No nation north of Spain could be induced
to give any considerable attention to the arguments and solicitations of
Columbus. True, Ferdinand and Isabella were of northern blood, red
haired Goths, but their northern blood had been nourished for a thousand
years upon the hillsides of Northern Spain, and they had become
Spaniards in fact, with all Spanish beliefs and tendencies. Beyond all
question Columbus took into account the Norwegian and Icelandic voyages
and the voyage of Madoc with his Welsh brethren. But Columbus knew that
those voyages only claimed to relate to lands lying west and north-west
of the Straits of Gibraltar. But when Columbus unfurled his sails
outside these Straits, in latitude thirty-five, he made no effort to
find the lands claimed to have been discovered by the Icelanders,
Norwegians or Welsh, but directed his course to a point from fifteen to
twenty degrees farther south, and thus reopened to the knowledge of the
world what should have been the happy islands of the west and the
storied gardens of the Hesperides. We make no doubt that the Incas of
Peru were brought to that country by the ships of the same Phœnician
people. But the Incas were very few in number, and came to Peru with
mechanical knowledge and the knowledge of pottery far in advance of that
possessed by the settlers in Central America, and their works initiated
for the purpose of improving water courses and constructing roads were
far more beneficial to mankind than the temples erected to Baal in
Central America, although the Incas, though more intelligent than the
settlers in Central America, were not yet emancipated from belief in
that heathen god. Manco Capac, the first Inca, may have been left, for
aught we know, by Solomon’s fleets from Eziongeber, when in search of
rosewood, mahogany, and gold, and may have been one of those skilled
mechanics that built Solomon’s Temple, and constructed the basins for
it, and thus have become enlightened in religious matters, although he
had not yet advanced so far as to entirely abandon the worship of Baal.

We are not unaware that Peruvian tradition introduces Capac into Peru at
a much later period, but no confidence can be placed in dates suggested
by a people utterly unacquainted with letters or figures, and we make no
suggestion as to the exact time when the first Inca showed himself in
Peru. It may be asked what we are to say in regard to the storied
Atlantis, and especially, what shall we say to the fancies of Ignatius
Donnelly, who has written such a beautiful romance in regard to that
island supposed by him to have existed, and have been the actual
birthplace of man. Our reply is that Central America was the only true
Atlantis; and that Atlantis sunk in the ocean only when its discoverers
became weakened in the face of the barbarous people who surrounded them
and lost their supremacy in the commercial world among the nations.
Beyond what was true of Central America, Atlantis was a dream of fancy
at an age of the world when fancy supplied the place of facts to an
uninstructed people.

       *       *       *       *       *


I am under strong obligations to MR. GEORGE R. HOWELL, Archivist of the
New York State Library, for the aid he has given me in selecting from
ancient Greek and Roman authors their substantial statements in regard
to what they considerered[TN-10] in their day to have been discoveries
in the western world.

Transcriber’s Note

The following misspellings and typographical errors were maintained.

       Page Error
  TN-1   5  real sea. should read real sea.”
  TN-2  13  against Ai should read against Ai.
  TN-3  13  pealed should read peeled
  TN-4  20  compas should read compass
  TN-5  20  Guatamala should read Guatemala
  TN-6  24  controling should read controlling
  TN-7  26  implicitely should read implicitly
  TN-8  27  compeled should read compelled
  TN-9  29  irresistable should read irresistible
  TN-10 31  considerered should read considered

The following words were inconsistently hyphenated.

  north-west / northwest
  Sea / sea (when referring to a named Sea)

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