Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan

Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan

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by John Lloyd Stephens
     
 

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Few explorers have had the experience of uncovering a civilization almost entirely unknown to the world. But Stephen's two expeditions to Mexico and Central America in 1839 and 1841 yielded the first solid information on the culture of the Maya Indians. In this work, and in his other masterpiece Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, he tells the story of his

Overview

Few explorers have had the experience of uncovering a civilization almost entirely unknown to the world. But Stephen's two expeditions to Mexico and Central America in 1839 and 1841 yielded the first solid information on the culture of the Maya Indians. In this work, and in his other masterpiece Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, he tells the story of his travels to some 50 ruined Mayan cities.
In this book, he describes the excitement of exploring the magnificent ruined cities of Copan and Palenque, and his briefer excursions to Quirigua, Patinamit, Utatlan, Gueguetenango, Ocosingo, and Uxmal. For all these cities, his details are so accurate that more recent explorers used the book as a Baedeker to locate ruins forgotten by even the Indians.
In addition to being a great book on archaeological discovery, Stephen's work is also a great travel book. Telling of journeying by mule back on narrow paths over unimaginable deep ravines, through sloughs of mud and jungles of heavy vegetation, describing dangers of robbery, revolution, fever, mosquitoes and more exotic insects, Stephen's narrative remains penetrating and alive. His account of his attempt to buy Copan for $50 is told with the adroitness of a Mark Twain, and his descriptions of Indian life — primitive villages a few miles from the ruins, burials, treatment of the sick, customs, amusements, etc. — never lose their interest.
Frederick Catherwood's illustrations virtually double the appeal of the book. Highly exact, remarkably realistic drawings show overall views, ground plans of the cities, elevations of palaces and temples, free-standing sculpture, carved hieroglyphics, stucco bas-reliefs, small clay figures, and interior details.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Stephens's book, first published in two volumes in 1841, has been abridged by Karl Ackerman, a freelance writer. Stephens made his journey in 1839-40, accompanied by an artist, Frederick Catherwood, who made detailed drawings of the Mayan ruins. The book was extremely popular upon publication; it remains an exciting 19th-century travel work and one of the early descriptions--and an incisive one--of the Mayan ruins. Ackerman's abridgment makes a handsome volume, but the continuity is not smooth, and the work could do with more explanatory footnotes. There are no contemporary photographs, of course, but later ones by Edward Muybridge and others are used, including some of Tikal, which Stephens did not visit. The book is useful but will not replace the original work or subsequent reprints with Catherwood's drawings.-- George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780486224046
Publisher:
Dover Publications
Publication date:
06/01/1969
Pages:
438
Sales rank:
545,311
Product dimensions:
5.42(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.90(d)

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Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jagsed More than 1 year ago
the must-have book to start learning about the Mayan people
Anonymous More than 1 year ago