A Land of Mystery
Theosophist, March, April, June, August, 1880
Whether one surveys the imposing ruins of Memphis or Palmyra; stands at the foot of the great pyramid of Ghizé; wanders along the shores of the Nile; or ponders amid the desolate fastnesses of the long-lost and mysterious Petra; however clouded and misty the origin of these prehistoric relics may appear, one nevertheless finds at least certain fragments of firm ground upon which to build conjecture. Thick as may be the curtain behind which the history of these antiquities is hidden, still there are rents here and there through which one may catch glimpses of light. We are acquainted with the descendants of the builders. And, however superficially, we also know the story of the nations whose vestiges are scattered around us. Not so with the antiquities of the New World of the two Americas. There, all along the coast of Peru, all over the Isthmus and North America, in the canyons of the Cordilleras, in the impossible gorges of the Andes, and, especially beyond the valley of Mexico, lie, ruined and desolate, hundreds of once mighty cities, lost to the memory of men, and having themselves lost even a name. Buried in dense forests, entombed in inaccessible valleys, sometimes sixty feet under-ground, from the day of their discovery until now they have ever remained a riddle to science, baffling all inquiry, and they have been muter than the Egyptian Sphinx herself. We know nothing of America prior to the Conquest—positively nothing. No chronicles, not even comparatively modern ones survive; there are no traditions, even among the aboriginal tribes, as to its past events. We are as ignorant of the races that built these cyclopean structures, as of the strange worship that inspired the antediluvian sculptors who carved upon hundreds of miles of walls, of monuments, monoliths and altars, these weird hieroglyphics, these groups of animals and men, pictures of an unknown life and lost arts—scenes so fantastic and wild, at times, that they involuntarily suggest the idea of a feverish dream, whose phantasmagoria at the wave of some mighty magician’s hand suddenly crystallized into granite, to bewilder the coming generations for ever and ever. So late as the beginning of the present century, the very existence of such wealth of antiquities was unknown. The petty, suspicious jealousy of the Spaniards had, from the first, created a sort of Chinese wall between their American possessions and the too curious traveller: and the ignorance and fanaticism of the conquerors, and their carelessness as to all but the satisfaction of their insatiable greediness, had precluded scientific research. Even the enthusiastic accounts of Cortez and his army of brigands and priests, and of Pizarro and his robbers and monks, as to the splendour of the temples, palaces, and cities of Mexico and Peru, were long discredited. In his History of America, Dr. Robertson goes so far as to inform his reader that the houses of the ancient Mexicans were “mere huts, built with turf, or mud, or the branches of trees, like those of the rudest Indians;” 1 and, upon the testimony of some Spaniards he even risked the assertion that “in all the extent of that vast empire,” there was not “a single monument or vestige of any building more ancient than the Conquest”! It was reserved to the great Alexander Humboldt to vindicate the truth. In 1803 a new flood of light was poured into the world of archæology by this eminent and learned traveller. In this he luckily proved but the pioneer of future discoverers. He then described but Mitla, or the Vale of the Dead, Xoxichalco, and the great pyramidal Temple of Cholula. But, after him came Stephens, Catherwood, and Squier; and, in Peru, D’Orbigny and Dr. Tschuddi. Since then, numerous travellers have visited and given us accurate details of many of the antiquities. But, how many more yet remain not only unexplored, but even unknown, no one can tell. As regards prehistoric buildings, both Peru and Mexico are rivals of Egypt. Equalling the latter in the immensity of her cyclopean structures, Peru surpasses her in their number; while Cholula exceeds the grand pyramid of Cheops in breadth, if not in height. Works of public utility, such as walls, fortifications, terraces, water-courses, aqueducts, bridges, temples, burial-grounds, whole cities, and exquisitely paved roads, hundreds of miles in length, stretch in an unbroken line, almost covering the land as with a net. On the coast, they are built of sun-dried bricks; in the mountains, of porphyritic lime, granite and silicated sandstones. Of the long generations of peoples who built them, history knows nothing, and even tradition is silent. As a matter of course, most of these lithic remains are covered with a dense vegetation. Whole forests have grown out of the broken hearts of the cities, and, with a few exceptions, everything is in ruin. But one may judge of what once was by that which yet remains.
With a most flippant unconcern, the Spanish historians refer nearly every ruin to Incal times. No greater mistake can be made. The hieroglyphics which sometimes cover from top to bottom whole walls and monoliths are, as they were from the first, a dead letter to modern science. But they were equally a dead letter to the Incas, though the history of the latter can be traced to the eleventh century They had no clue to the meaning of these inscriptions, but attributed all such to their unknown predecessors; thus barring the presumption of their own descent from the first civilizers of their country. Briefly, the Inca history runs thus:—
Inca is the Quichua title for chief or emperor, and the name of the ruling and most aristocratic race or rather caste of the land which was governed by them for an unknown period, prior to, and until, the Spanish Conquest. Some place their first appearance in Peru from regions unknown in 1021; others, also, or conjecture, at five centuries after the Biblical “flood,” and according to the modest notions of Christian theology. Still the latter theory is undoubtedly nearer truth than the former. The Incas, judged by their exclusive privileges, power and “infallibility,” are the antipodal counterpart of the Brahminical caste of India. Like the latter, the Incas claimed direct descent from the Deity, which, as in the case of the Sûryavansa dynasty of India, was the Sun. According to the sole but general tradition, there was a time when the whole of the population of the now New World was broken up into independent, warring, and barbarian tribes. At last, the “Highest” deity—the Sun—took pity upon them, and, in order to rescue the people from ignorance, sent down upon earth, to teach them, his two children Manco Capac, and his sister and wife, Mama Ocollo Huaco—the counterparts, again, of the Egyptian Osiris, and his sister and wife, Isis, as well as of the several Hindu gods and demi-gods and their wives. These two made their appearance on a beautiful island in Lake Titicaca—of which we will speak further on—and thence proceeded northward to Cuzco, later on the capital of the Incas, where they at once began to disseminate civilization. Collecting together the various races from all parts of Peru, the divine couple then divided their labor. Manco Capac taught men agriculture, legislation, architecture and arts; while Mama Ocollo instructed the women in weaving, spinning, embroidery and house-keeping. It is from this celestial pair that the Incas claimed their descent; and yet, they were utterly ignorant of the people who built the stupendous and now ruined cities which cover the whole area of their empire, and which then extended from the Equator to over 37 degrees of Latitude, and included not only the western slope of the Andes, but the whole mountain chain with its eastern declivities to the Amazon and Orinoco. As the direct descendants of the Sun, they were exclusively the high priests of the state religion, and at the same time emperors and the highest statesmen in the land: in virtue of which, they, again like the Brahmans, arrogated to themselves a divine superiority over the ordinary mortals, thus founding like the “twice-born” an exclusive and aristocratic caste—the Inca race. Considered as the son of the Sun, every reigning Inca was the high priest, the oracle, chief captain in war, and absolute sovereign; thus realizing the double office of Pope and King, and so long anticipating the dream of the Roman Pontiffs. To his command the blindest obedience was exacted; his person was sacred; and he was the object of divine honours. The highest officers of the land could not appear shod in his presence; this mark of respect pointing again to an Oriental origin; while the custom of boring the ears of the youths of royal blood and inserting in them golden rings “which were increased in size as they advanced in rank, until the distention of the cartilege became a positive deformity,” suggests a strange resemblance between the sculptured portraits of many of them that we find in the more modern ruins, and the images of Buddha and of some deities, not to mention our contemporary dandies of Siam, Burmah, and Southern India. In that, once more like in India, in the palmy days of the Brahmin power, no one had the right to either receive an education or study religion except the privileged Inca caste. And, when the reigning Inca died, or as it was termed, “was called home to the mansion of his father,” a very large number of his attendants and his wives were made to die with him, during the ceremony of his obsequies, just as we find in the old annals of Rajesthan, and down to the but just abolished custom of Sutti. Taking all this into consideration, the archæologist cannot remain satisfied with the brief remark of certain historians that “in this tradition we trace only another version of the story of the civilization common to all primitive nations, and that imposture of a celestial relationship whereby designing rulers and cunning priests have sought to secure their ascendency among men.” No more is it an explanation to say that “Manco Capac is the almost exact counterpart of the Chinese Fohi, the Hindu Buddha, the terrestrial Osiris of Egypt, the Quetzalcoatl of Mexico, and Votan of Central America”; for all this is but too evident. What we want to learn is how came these nations, so antipodal to each other as India, Egypt, and America, to offer such extraordinary points of resemblance, not only in their general religious, political, and social views, but sometimes in the minutest details. The much-needed task is to find out which one of them preceded the other; to explain how these people came to plant at the four corners of the earth nearly identical architecture and arts, unless there was a time when, as assured by Plato and believed in by more than one modern archæologist, no ships were needed for such a transit, as the two worlds formed but one continent.
According to the most recent researches, there are five distinct styles of architecture in the Andes alone, of which the temple of the Sun at Cuzco was the latest. And this one, perhaps, is the only structure of importance which, according to modern travellers, can be safely attributed to the Incas, whose imperial glories are believed to have been the last gleam of a civilization dating back for untold ages. Dr. E. R. Heath, of Kansas (U.S.A.), thinks that “long before Manco Capac, the Andes had been the dwelling-place of races, whose beginning must have been coëval with the savages of Western Europe. The gigantic architecture points to the cyclopean family, the founders of the Temple of Babel, and the Egyptian pyramids. The Grecian scroll found in many places is borrowed (?) from the Egyptians; the mode of burial and embalming their dead points to Egypt.” Further on, this learned traveller finds that the skulls taken from the burial-grounds, according to craniologists, represent three distinct races: the Chinchas, who occupied the western part of Peru from the Andes to the Pacific; the Aymaras, dwellers of the elevated plains of Peru and Bolivia, on the southern shore of Lake Titicaca; and the Huancas, who “occupied the plateau between the chains of the Andes, north of Lake Titicaca to the 9th degree of South Latitude.” To confound the buildings of the epoch of the Incas in Peru, and of Montezuma and his caciques, in Mexico, with the aboriginal monuments, is fatal to archaeology. While Cholula, Uxmal, Quiché, Pachacamac, and Chichen were all perfectly preserved and occupied at the time of the invasion of the Spanish banditti, there are hundreds of ruined cities and works which were in the same state of ruin even then; whose origin was unknown to the conquered Incas and caciques as it is to us; and which are undoubtedly the remains of unknown and now extinct peoples. The strange shapes of the heads, and profiles of the human figures upon the monoliths of Copan are a warrant for the correctness of the hypothesis. The pronounced difference between the skulls of these races and the Indo-European skulls was at first attributed to mechanical means, used by the mothers for giving a peculiar conformation to the head of their children during infancy, as is often done by other tribes and peoples. But, as the same author tells us, the finding in “a mummy of a fœtus of seven or eight months having the same conformation of skull, has placed a doubt as to the certainty of this fact.” And besides hypothesis, we have a scientific and an unimpeachable proof of a civilization that must have existed in Peru ages ago. Were we to give the number of thousands of years that have probably elapsed since then, without first showing good reasons for the assumption, the reader might feel like holding his breath. So let us try.
The Peruvian guano (huano), that precious fertilizer, composed of the excrement of sea-fowls, intermixed with their decaying bodies, eggs, remains of seal, and so on, which has accumulated upon the isles of the Pacific and the coast of South America, and its formation are now well-known. It was Humboldt who first discovered and drew the world’s attention to it in 1804. And, while describing the deposits as covering the granite rocks of the Chincas and other islands to the depth of 50 or 60 feet, he states that the accumulation of the preceding 300 years, since the Conquest, had formed only a few lines in thickness. How many thousands of years, then, it required to form this deposit 60 feet deep, is a matter of simple calculation. In this connection we may now quote something of a discovery spoken of in the Peruvian Antiquities. 2 “Buried 62 feet under the ground, on the Chinca islands, stone-idols and water-pots were found, while 35 and 33 feet below the surface were wooden idols. Beneath the guano on the Guanapi islands, just south of Truxillo, and Macabi just north, mummies, birds, and birds‘ eggs, gold and silver ornaments were taken. On the Macabi the labourers found some large valuable golden vases, which they broke up and divided among themselves, even though offered weight for weight in gold coin, and thus relics of greater interest to the scientist have been ever lost. He—who can determine the centuries necessary to deposit thirty and sixty feet of guano on these islands, remembering that since the Conquest, three hundred years ago, no appreciable increase in depth has been noted—can give you an idea of the antiquity of these relics.”
If we confine ourselves to a strictly arithmetical calculation, then allowing 12 lines to an inch, and 12 inches to a foot, and allowing one line to every century, we are forced to believe that the people who made these precious gold vases lived 864,000 years ago! Leave an ample margin for errors, and give two lines to a century—say an inch to every 100 years—and we will yet have 72,000 years back a civilization which—if we judge by its public works, the durability of its constructions, and the grandeur of its buildings,—equalled, and in some things certainly surpassed, our own.
Having well defined ideas as to the periodicity of cycles, for the world as well as for nations, empires, and tribes, we are convinced that our present modern civilization is but the latest dawn of that which already has been seen an innumerable number of times upon this planet. It may not be exact science, but it is both inductive and deductive logic, based upon theories far less hypothetical and more palpable than many another theory, held as strictly scientific. To express it in the words of Professor T. E. Nipher, of St. Louis, “we are not the friends of theory, but of truth,” and until truth is found, we welcome every new theory, however unpopular at first, for fear of rejecting in our ignorance the stone which may in time become the very corner-stone of the truth. “The errors of scientific men are well nigh countless, not because they are men of science, but because they are men,” says the same scientist; and further quotes the noble words of Faraday—”occasionally, and frequently the exercise of the judgment ought to end in absolute reservation. It may be very distasteful and a great fatigue to suspend a conclusion, but as we are not infallible, so we ought to be cautious.” (Experimental Researches, 24th Series.)
It is doubtful whether, with the exception of a few of the most prominent ruins, there ever was attempted a detailed account of the so-called American antiquities. Yet, in order to bring out the more prominently a point of comparison, such a work would be absolutely necessary. If the history of religion and of mythology and—far more important—the origin, developing and final grouping of the human species are ever to be unravelled, we have to trust to archaeological research, rather than to the hypothetical deductions of philology. We must begin by massing together the concrete imagery of the early thought, more eloquent in its stationary form than the verbal expression of the same, the latter being but too liable, in its manifold interpretations, to be distorted in a thousand ways. This would afford us an easier and more trustworthy clue. Archaeological Societies ought to have a whole cyclopædia of the world’s remains, with a collation of the most important of the speculations as to each locality. For, however fantastic and wild some of these hypotheses may seem at first glance, yet each has a chance of proving useful at some time. It is often more beneficial to know what a thing is not than to know what it is, as Max Müller truly tells us.
It is not within the limits of an article in our paper that any such object could be achieved. Availing ourselves, though, of the reports of the Government surveyors, trustworthy travellers, men of science, and, even our own limited experience, we will try in the future issues to give to our Hindu readers, who possibly may never have heard of these antiquities, a general idea of them. Our latest informations are drawn from every reliable source; the survey of the Peruvian antiquities being mostly due to Dr. Heath’s able paper, above mentioned.
Evidently we, THEOSOPHISTS, are not the only iconoclasts in this world of mutual deception and hypocrisy. We are not the only ones who believe in cycles and, opposing the Biblical chronology, lean towards those opinions which secretly are shared by so many, but publicly avowed by so few. We, Europeans, are just emerging from the very bottom of a new cycle, and progressing upwards, while the Asiatics—Hindus especially—are the lingering remnants of the nations which filled the world in the previous and now departed cycles. Whether the Aryans sprang from the archaic Americans, or the latter from the prehistorical Aryans, is a question which no living man can decide. But that there must have been an intimate connection at some time between the old Aryans, the prehistoric inhabitants of America—whatever might have been their name—and the ancient Egyptians, is a matter more easily proved than contradicted. And probably, if there ever was such a connection, it must have taken place at a time when the Atlantic did not yet divide the two hemispheres as it does now.
In his Peruvian Antiquities (see the Theosophist for March) Dr. Heath, of Kansas City—rara avis among scientific men, a fearless searcher, who accepts truth wherever he finds it, and is not afraid to speak it out in the very face of dogmatic opposition—sums up his impressions of the Peruvian relics in the following words:—”Three times the Andes sank hundreds of feet beneath the ocean level, and again were slowly brought to their present height. A man’s life would be too short to count even the centuries consumed in this operation. The coast of Peru has risen eighty feet since it felt the tread of Pizarro. Supposing the Andes to have risen uniformly and without interruption, 70,000 years must have elapsed before they reached their present altitude.”
“Who knows, then, but that Jules Verne’s fanciful idea 3 regarding the lost continent Atlanta may be near the truth? Who can say that, where now is the Atlantic Ocean, formerly did not exist a continent, with its dense population, advanced in the arts and sciences, who, as they found their land sinking beneath the waters, retired part east and part west, populating thus the two hemispheres? This would explain the similarity of their archæological structures and races, and their differences, modified by and adapted to the character of their respective climates and countries. Thus would the llama and camel differ, although of the same species; thus the algoraba and espino trees; thus the Iroquois Indians of North America and the most ancient Arabs call the constellation of the ‘Great Bear’ by the same name; thus various nations, cut off from all intercourse or knowledge of each other, divide the zodiac into twelve constellations, apply to them the same names, and the Northern Hindus apply the name Andes to their Himalayan mountains, as did the South Americans to their principal chain. 4 Must we fall in the old rut, and suppose no other means of populating the Western Hemisphere except ‘by way of Behring’s Strait’? Must we still locate a geographical Eden in the East, and suppose a land, equally adapted to man and as old geologically, must wait the aimless wanderings of the ‘lost tribe of Israel’ to become populated?”
Go where we may, to explore the antiquities of America—whether of Northern, Central, or Southern America—we are first of all impressed with the magnitude of these relics of ages and races unknown, and then with the extraordinary similarity they present to the mounds and ancient structures of old India, of Egypt and even of some parts of Europe. Whoever has seen one of these mounds has seen all. Whoever has stood before the cyclopean structures of one continent can have a pretty accurate idea of those of the other. Only be it said—we know still less of the age of the antiquities of America than even of those in the Valley of the Nile, of which we know next to nothing. But their symbolism—apart from their outward form—is evidently the same as in Egypt, India, and elsewhere. As before the great pyramid of Cheops in Cairo, so before the great mound, 100 feet high, on the plain of Cahokia,—near St. Louis (Missouri)—which measures 700 feet long by 800 feet broad at the base, and covers upwards of eight acres of ground, having 20,000,000 cubic feet of contents, and the mound on the banks of Brush Creek, Ohio, so accurately described by Squier and Davis, one knows not whether to admire more the geometrical precision, prescribed by the wonderful and mysterious builders in the form of their monuments, or the hidden symbolism they evidently sought to express. The Ohio mound represents a serpent, upwards of l ,000 feet long. Gracefully coiled in capricious curves, it terminates in a triple coil at the tail. “The embankment constituting the effigy, is upwards of five feet in height, by thirty feet base at the centre of the body, slightly diminishing towards the tail.” 5 The neck is stretched out and its mouth wide opened, holding within its jaws an oval figure. “Formed by an embankment four feet in height, this oval is perfectly regular in outline, its transverse and conjugate diameters being 160 and 8 feet respectively,” say the surveyors. The whole represents the universal cosmological idea of the serpent and the egg. This is easy to surmise. But how came this great symbol of the Hermetic wisdom of old Egypt to find itself represented in North America? How is it that the sacred buildings found in Ohio and elsewhere, these squares, circles, octagons, and other geometrical figures, in which one recognizes so easily the prevailing idea of the Pythagorean sacred numerals, seem copied from the Book of Numbers? Apart from the complete silence as to their origin, even among the Indian tribes, who have otherwise preserved their own traditions in every case, the antiquity of these ruins is proved by the existence of the largest and most ancient forests growing on the buried cities. The prudent archæologists of America have generously assigned them 2,000 years. But by whom built, and whether their authors migrated, or disappeared beneath victorious arms, or were swept out of existence by some direful epidemic, or a universal famine, are questions, “probably beyond the power of human investigation to answer,” they say. The earliest inhabitants of Mexico, of whom history has any knowledge—more hypothetical than proven—are the Toltecs. These are supposed to have come from the North and believed to have entered Anahuac in the 7th century A.D. They are also credited with having constructed in Central America, where they spread in the eleventh century, some of the great cities whose ruins still exist. In this case it is they who must also have carved the hieroglyphics that cover some of the relics. How is it, then, that the pictorial system of writing of Mexico, which was used by the conquered people and learned by the conquerors and their missionaries, does not yet furnish the keys to the hieroglyphics of Palenque and Copan, not to mention those of Peru? And these civilized Toltecs themselves, who were they, and whence did they come? And who are the Aztecs that succeeded them? Even among the hieroglyphical systems of Mexico, there were some which the foreign interpreters were precluded the possibility of studying. These were the so-called schemes of judicial astrology “given but not explained in Lord Kingsborough’s published collection,” and set down as purely figurative and symbolical, “intended only for the use of the priests and diviners and possessed of an esoteric significance.” Many of the hieroglyphics on the monoliths of Palenque and Copan are of the same character. The “priests and diviners” were all killed off by the Catholic fanatics,—the secret died with them.
Nearly all the mounds in North America are terraced and ascended by large graded ways, sometimes square, often hexagonal, octagonal or truncated, but in all respects similar to the teocallis of Mexico, and to the topes of India. As the latter are attributed throughout this country to the work of the five Pandus of the Lunar Race, so the cyclopean monuments and monoliths on the shores of Lake Titicaca, in the republic of Bolivia, are ascribed to giants, the five exiled brothers “from beyond the mounts.” They worshipped the moon as their progenitor and lived before the time of the “Sons and Virgins of the Sun.” Here, the similarity of the Aryan with the South American tradition is again but too obvious, and the Solar and Lunar races—the Sûrya Vansa and the Chandra Vansa—re-appear in America.
This Lake Titicaca, which occupies the centre of one of the most remarkable terrestrial basins on the whole globe, is “160 miles long and from 50 to 80 broad, and discharges through the valley of El Desagvadero, to the south-east into another lake, called Lake Aullagas, which is probably kept at a lower level by evaporation or filtration, since it has no known outlet. The surface of the lake is 12,846 feet above the sea, and it is the most elevated body of waters of similar size in the world.” As the level of its waters has very much decreased in the historical period, it is believed on good grounds that they once surrounded the elevated spot on which are found the remarkable ruins of Tiahuanaco.
The latter are without any doubt aboriginal monuments pertaining to an epoch which preceded the Incal period, as far back as the Dravidian and other aboriginal peoples preceded the Aryans in India. Although the traditions of the Incas maintain that the great law-giver and teacher of the Peruvians, Manco Capac—the Manu of South America diffused his knowledge and influence from this centre, yet the statement is unsupported by facts. If the original seat of the Aymara, or “Inca race” was there, as claimed by some, how is it that neither the Incas, nor the Aymaras, who dwell on the shores of the Lake to this day, nor yet the ancient Peruvians, had the slightest knowledge concerning their history? Beyond a vague tradition which tells of “giants” having built these immense structures in one night, we do not find the faintest clue. And, we have every reason to doubt whether the Incas are of the Aymara race at all. The Incas claim their descent from Manco Capac, the son of the Sun, and the Aymaras claim this legislator as their instructor and the founder of the era of their civilization. Yet, neither the Incas of the Spanish period could prove the one, nor the Aymaras the other. The language of the latter is quite distinct from the Inichua—the tongue of the Incas; and they were the only race that refused to give up their language when conquered by the descendants of the Sun, as Dr. Heath tells us.
The ruins afford every evidence of the highest antiquity. Some are built on a pyramidal plan, as most of the American mounds are, and cover several acres; while the monolithic doorways, pillars and stone-idols, so elaborately carved, are “sculptured in a style wholly different from any other remains of art yet found in America.” D’Orbigny speaks of the ruins in the most enthusiastic manner. “These monuments,” he says, “consist of a mound raised nearly 100 feet, surrounded with pillars—of temples from 600 to 1,200 feet in length, opening precisely towards the east, and adorned with colossal angular columns—of porticoes of a single stone, covered with reliefs of skilful execution, displaying symbolical representations of the Sun, and the condor, his messenger—of basaltic statues loaded with bas-reliefs, in which the design of the carved head is half Egyptian—and lastly, of the interior of a palace formed of enormous blocks of rock, completely hewn, whose dimensions are often 21 feet in length, 12 in breadth, and 6 in thickness. In the temples and palaces, the portals are not inclined, as among those of the Incas, but perpendicular; and their vast dimensions, and the imposing masses, of which they are composed, surpass in beauty and grandeur all that were afterwards built by the sovereigns of Cuzco.” Like the rest of his fellow-explorers, M. D’Orbigny believes these ruins to have been the work of a race far anterior to the Incas.
Two distinct styles of architecture are found in these relics of Lake Titicaca. Those of the island of Coati, for instance, bear every feature in common with the ruins of Tiahuanaco; so do the vast blocks of stone elaborately sculptured, some of which, according to the report of the surveyors, in 1846, measure: “3 feet in length by 18 feet in width, and 6 feet in thickness”; while on some of the is lands of the Lake Titicaca there are monuments of great extent, “but of true Peruvian type, believed to be the remains of temples destroyed by the Spaniards.” The famous sanctuary, with the human figure in it, belongs to the former. Its doorway 10 feet high, 13 feet broad, with an opening 6 feet 4 inches, by 3 feet 2 inches, is cut from a single stone. “Its east front has a cornice, in the centre of which is a human figure of strange form, crowned with rays, interspersed with serpents with crested heads. On each side of this figure are three rows of square compartments, filled with human and other figures, of apparently symbolic design. . . . ” Were this temple in India, it would undoubtedly be attributed to Shiva; but it is at the antipodes, where neither the foot of a Shaiva nor one of the Naga tribe has ever penetrated to the knowledge of man, though the Mexican Indians have their Nagal, or chief sorcerer and serpent worshipper. The ruins standing on an eminence, which, from the watermarks around it, seem to have been formerly an island in Lake Titicaca, and “the level of the Lake now being 135 feet lower, and its shores, 12 miles distant, this fact, in conjunction with others, warrants the belief that these remains antedate any others known in America.” 6 Hence, all these relics are unanimously ascribed to the same “unknown and mysterious people who preceded the Peruvians, as the Tulhuatecas or Toltecs did the Aztecs. It seems to have been the seat of the highest and most ancient civilization of South America and of a people who have left the most gigantic monuments of their power and skill” . . . And these monuments are all either Dracontias—temples sacred to the Snake, or temples dedicated to the Sun.
Of this same character are the ruined pyramids of Teotihuacan and the monoliths of Palenque and Copan. The former are some eight leagues from the City of Mexico on the plain of Otumla, and considered among the most ancient in the land. The two principal ones are dedicated to the Sun and Moon, respectively. They are built of cut stone, square, with four stories and a level area at the top. The larger, that of the Sun, is 221 feet high, 680 feet square at the base, and covers an area of 11 acres, nearly equal to that of the great pyramid of Cheops. And yet, the pyramid of Cholula, higher than that of Teotihuacan by ten feet according to Humboldt, and having 1,400 feet square at the base, covers an area of 45 acres!
It is interesting to hear what the earliest writers—the historians who saw them during the first conquest—say even of some of the most modern of these buildings, of the great temple of Mexico, among others. It consisted of an immense square area “surrounded by a wall of stone and lime, eight feet thick, with battlements, ornamented with many stone figures in the form of serpents,” says one. Cortez shows that 500 houses might be easily placed within its enclosure. It was paved with polished stones, so smooth, that “the horses of the Spaniards could not move over them without slipping,” writes Bernal Diaz. In connection with this, we must remember that it was not the Spaniards who conquered the Mexicans, but their horses. As there never was a horse seen before by this people in America, until the Europeans landed it in the coast, the natives, though excessively brave, “were so awe-struck at the sight of horses and the roar of the artillery,” that they took the Spaniards to be of divine origin and sent them human beings as sacrifices. This superstitious panic is sufficient to account for the fact that a handful of men could so easily conquer incalculable thousands of warriors.
According to Gomera, the four walls of the enclosure of the temple correspond with the cardinal points. In the centre of this gigantic area arose the great temple, an immense pyramidal structure of eight stages, faced with stone, 300 feet square at the base and 120 feet in height, truncated, with a level summit, upon which were situated two towers, the shrines of the divinities to whom it was consecrated—Tezcatlipoca and Huitzlipochtli. It was here that the sacrifices were performed, and the eternal fire maintained. Clavigero tells us, that besides this great pyramid, there were forty other similar structures consecrated to various divinities. The one called Tezcacalli, “the House of the Shining Mirrors, sacred to Tezcatlipoca, the God of Light, the Soul of the World, the Vivifier, the Spiritual Sun.” The dwellings of priests, who, according to Zarate, amounted to 8,000, were near by, as well as the seminaries and the schools. Ponds and fountains, groves and gardens, in which flowers and sweet smelling herbs were cultivated for use in certain sacred rites and the decoration of altars, were in abundance; and, so large was the inner yard, that “8,000 or 10,000 persons had sufficient room to dance in it upon their solemn festivities”—says Solis. Torquemada estimates the number of such temples in the Mexican empire at 40,000 but Clavigero, speaking of the majestic Teocalli (literally, houses of God) of. Mexico, estimates the number higher.
So wonderful are the features of resemblance between the ancient shrines of the Old and the New World that Humboldt remains unequal to express his surprise. “What striking analogies exist between the monuments of the old continents and those of the Toltecs who . . . built these colossal structures, truncated pyramids, divided by layers, like the temple of Belus at Babylon! Where did they take the model of these edifices?”—he exclaims.
The eminent naturalist might have also enquired where the Mexicans got all their Christian virtues from, being but poor pagans. The code of the Aztecs, says Prescott, “evinces a profound respect for the great principles of morality, and as clear a perception of these principles as is to be found in the most cultivated nations.” Some of these are very curious inasmuch as they show a similarity to some of the Gospel ethics. “He who looks too curiously on a woman, commits adultery with his eyes,” says one of them. “Keep peace with all; bear injuries with humility; God, who sees, will avenge you,” declares another. Recognizing but one Supreme Power in Nature, they addressed it as the deity “by whom we live, Omnipresent, that knoweth all thoughts and giveth all gifts, without whom man is as nothing; invisible, incorporeal, one of perfect perfection and purity, under whose wings we find repose and a sure defence.” And, in naming their children, says Lord Kingsborough, “they used a ceremony strongly resembling the Christian rite of baptism, the lips and bosom of the infant being sprinkled with water, and the Lord implored to wash away the sin that was given to it before the foundation of the world, so that the child might be born anew.” “Their laws were perfect; justice, contentment and peace reigned in the kingdom of these benighted heathens,” when the brigands and the Jesuits of Cortez landed at Tabasco. A century of murders, robbery, and forced conversion, were sufficient to transform this quiet, inoffensive and wise people into what they are now. They have fully benefited by dogmatic Christianity. And he, who ever went to Mexico, knows what that means. The country is full of blood-thirsty Christian fanatics, thieves, rogues, drunkards, debauchees, murderers, and the greatest liars the world has ever produced! Peace and glory to your ashes, O Cortez and Torquemada! In this case at least, will you never be permitted to boast of the enlightenment your Christianity has poured out on the poor, and once virtuous heathens!
The ruins of Central America are no less imposing. Massively built, with walls of a great thickness, they are usually marked by broad stairways, leading to the principal entrance. When composed of several stories, each successive story is usually smaller than that below it, giving the structure the appearance of a pyramid of several stages. The front walls, either made of stone or stuccoed, are covered with elaborately carved, symbolic figures; and the interior divided into corridors and dark chambers, with arched ceilings, the roofs supported by overlapping courses of stones, “constituting a pointed arch, corresponding in type with the earliest monuments of the old world.” Within several chambers at Palenque, tablets, covered with sculptures and hieroglyphics of fine design and artistic execution, were discovered by Stephens. In Honduras, at Copan, a whole city—temples, houses and grand monoliths intricately carved—was unearthed in an old forest by Catherwood and Stephens. The sculpture and general style of Copan are unique, and no such style or even anything approaching it has been found anywhere else, except at Quirigua, and in the islands of Lake Nicaragua. No one can decipher the weird hieroglyphical inscriptions on the altars and monoliths. With the exception of a few works of uncut stone, “to Copan, we may safely assign an antiquity higher than to any of the other monuments of Central America with which we are acquainted,” says the New American Cyclopædia. At the period of the Spanish conquest, Copan was already a forgotten ruin, concerning which existed only the vaguest traditions.
No less extraordinary are the remains of the different epochs in Peru. The ruins of the temple of the Sun at Cuzco are yet imposing, notwithstanding that the deprecating hand of the Vandal Spaniard passed heavily over it. If we may believe the narratives of the conquerors themselves, they found it, on their arrival, a kind of a fairy-tale castle. With its enormous circular stone wall completely encompassing the principal temple, chapels and buildings, it is situated in the very heart of the city, and even its remains justly provoke the admiration of the traveller. “Aqueducts opened within the sacred inclosure; and within it were gardens, and walks among shrubs and flowers of gold and silver, made in imitation of the productions of nature. It was attended by 4,000 priests.” “The ground,” says La Vega, “for 200 paces around the temple, was considered holy, and no one was allowed to pass within this boundary but with naked feet.” Besides this great temple, there were 300 other inferior temples at Cuzco. Next to the latter in beauty, was the celebrated temple of Pachacamac. Still another great temple of the Sun is mentioned by Humboldt; and, “at the base of the hill of Cannar was formerly a famous shrine of the Sun, consisting of the universal symbol of that luminary, formed by nature upon the face of a great rock.” Roman tells us “that the temples of Peru were built upon high grounds or the top of the hills, and were surrounded by three and four circular embankments of earth, one within the other.” Other remains seen by myself especially mounds—are surrounded by two, three, and four circles of stones. Near the town of Cayambe, on the very spot which Ulloa saw and described an ancient Peruvian temple “perfectly circular in form, and open at the top,” there are several such cromlechs. Quoting from an article in the Madras Times of 1876, Mr. J. H. Rivett-Carnac gives, in his Archaeological Notes, the following information upon some curious mounds in the neighborhood of Bangalore:— 7 “Near the village there are at least one hundred cromlechs plainly to be seen. These cromlechs are surrounded by circles of stones, some of them with concentric circles three and four deep. One very remarkable in appearance has four circles of large stones around it, and is called by the natives ‘Pandavara Gudi’ or the temples of the Pandas. . . . This is supposed to be the first instance, where the natives popularly imagine a structure of this kind to have been the temple of a by-gone, if not of a mythical, race. Many of these structures have a triple circle, some a double, and a few single circles of stone round them.” In the 35th degree of latitude, the Arizona Indians in North America have their rude altars to this day, surrounded by precisely such circles, and their sacred spring, discovered by Major Alfred R. Calhoun, F.G.S., of the United States Army Survey Commission, is surrounded with the same symbolical wall of stones, as is found in Stonehenge and elsewhere.
By far the most interesting and full account we have read for a long time upon the Peruvian antiquities is that from the pen of Mr. Heath of Kansas, already mentioned. Condensing the general picture of these remains into the limited space of a few pages in a periodical, 8 he yet manages to present a masterly and vivid picture of the wealth of these remains. More than one speculator has grown rich in a few days through his desecrations of the “huacas.” The remains of countless generations of unknown races, who had slept there undisturbed—who knows for how many ages—are now left by the sacrilegious treasure-hunter to crumble into dust under the tropical sun. Mr. Heath’s conclusions, more startling, perchance, than his discoveries, are worthy of being recorded. We will repeat in brief his descriptions:—
“In the Jeguatepegue valley in Peru in 70° 24′ S. Latitude, four miles north of the port of Pacasmayo is the Jeguatepegue river. Near it, beside the southern shore, is an elevated platform ‘one-fourth of a mile square and forty feet high, all of adobes or sun-burnt bricks. A wall of fifty feet in width connects it with another’; 150 feet high, 200 feet across the top, and 500 at the base, nearly square. This latter was built in sections of rooms, ten feet square at the base, six feet at the top and about eight feet high. All of this same class of mounds—temples to worship the sun, or fortresses, as they may be—have on the northerly side an incline for an entrance. Treasure-seekers have cut into this one about half-way, and it is said 150,000 dollars’ worth of gold and silver ornaments were found.” Here many thousands of men were buried and beside the skeletons were found in abundance ornaments of gold, silver, copper, coral beads, &c. “On the north side of the river, are the extensive ruins of a walled city, two miles wide by six long. . . . Follow the river to the mountains. All along you pass ruin after ruin and huaca after huaca” (burial places). At Tolon there is another ruined city. Five miles further, up the river, “there is an isolated boulder of granite, four and six feet in its diameters, covered with hieroglyphics; fourteen miles further, a point of mountain at the junction of two ravines is covered to a height of more than fifty feet with the same class of hieroglyphics—birds, fishes, snakes, cats, monkeys, men, sun, moon, and many odd and now unintelligible forms. The rock, on which these are cut, is a silicated sandstone, and many of the lines are an eighth of an inch deep. In one large stone there are three holes, twenty to thirty inches deep, six inches in diameter at the orifice and two at the apex. . . . At Anchi, on the Rimac river, upon the face of a perpendicular wall 200 feet above the river-bed, there are two hieroglyphics, representing an imperfect B and a perfect D. In a crevice below them, near the river, were found buried 25,000 dollars’ worth of gold and silver; when the Incas learned of the murder of their chief, what did they do with the gold they were bringing for his ransom? Rumour says they buried it. . . . May not these markings at Yonan tell something, since they are on the road and near to the Incal city?”
The above was published in November, 1878, when in October, 1877, in my work “Isis Unveiled” (Vol. I, p. 595), I gave a legend, which, for circumstances too long to explain, I hold to be perfectly trustworthy, relating to these same buried treasures for the Inca’s ransom, a journal more satirical than polite classed it with the tales of Baron Munchausen. The secret was revealed to me by a Peruvian. At Arica, going from Lima, there stands an enormous rock, which tradition points to as the tomb of the Incas. As the last rays of the setting sun strike the face of the rock, one can see curious hieroglyphics inscribed upon it. These characters form one of the land-marks that show how to get at the immense treasures buried in subterranean corridors. The details are given in “Isis,” and I will not repeat them. Strong corroborative evidence is now found in more than one recent scientific work; and the statement may be less pooh-poohed now than it was then. Some miles beyond Yonan, on a ridge of a mountain 700 feet above the river, are the walls of another city. Six and twelve miles further are extensive walls and terraces; seventy-eight miles from the coast, “you zigzag up the mountain side 7,000 feet then descend 2,000” to arrive at Coxamolca, the city where, unto this day, stands the house in which Atahualpa, the unfortunate Inca, was held prisoner by the treacherous Pizzaro. It is the house which the Inca “promised to fill with gold as high as he could reach, in exchange for his liberty” in 1532; he did fill it with 17,500,000 dollars’ worth of gold, and so kept his promise. But Pizzaro, the ancient swineherd of Spain and the worthy acolyte of the priest Hernando de Lugues, murdered him, notwithstanding his pledge of honor. Three miles from this town, “there is a wall of unknown make. Cemented, the cement is harder than stone itself. . . . At Chepen, there is a mountain with a wall twenty feet high, the summit being almost entirely artificial. Fifty miles south of Pacaomayo, between the seaport of Huanchaco and Truxillo, are the ruins of Chan-Chan, the capital city of the Chimoa kingdom. . . . The road from the port to the city crosses these ruins, entering by a causeway about four feet from the ground, and leading from one great mass of ruins to another; beneath this is a tunnel.” Be they forts, castles, palaces or burial mounds called “huacas,” all bear the name “huaca.” Hours of wandering on horseback among these ruins give only a confused idea of them, nor can any explorers there point out what were palaces and what were not. . . . The highest enclosures must have cost an immense amount of labour.
To give an idea of the wealth found in the country by the Spaniards, we copy the following, taken from the records of the municipality in the city of Truxillo by Mr. Heath. It is a copy of the accounts that are found in the book of Fifths of the Treasury in the years 1577 and 1578, of the treasures found in the “Huaca of Toledo” by one man alone.
First.—In Truxillo. Peru, on the 22nd of July 1577, Don Garcia Gutierrez de Toledo presented himself at the royal treasury, to give into the royal chest a-fifth. He brought a bar of gold 19 carats ley and weighing 2,400 Spanish dollars, of which the fifth being 708 dollars, together with 11/2 per cent to the chief assayer, were deposited in the royal box.
Secondly.—On the 12th of December, he presented himself with five bars of gold, 15 and 19 carats ley, weighing 8,918 dollars.
Thirdly.—On the 7th of January 1578, he came with his fifth of large bars and plates of gold, one hundred and fifteen in number, 15 to 20 carats ley, weighing 153,280 dollars.
Fourthly.—On the 8th of March, he brought sixteen bars of gold, 14 to 21 carats ley, weighing 21,118 dollars.
Fifthly.—On the fifth of April, he brought different ornaments of gold, being little belts of gold and patterns of corn-heads and other things, of 14 carats ley, weighing 6,272 dollars.
Sixthly.—On the 20th of April, he brought three small bars of gold, 20 carats ley, weighing 4,170 dollars.
Seventhly.—On the 12th of July, he came with forty-seven bars, 14 to 21 carats, weighing 777,312 dollars.
Eighthly.—On the same day he came back with another portion of gold and ornaments of corn-heads and pieces of effigies of animals, weighing 4,704 dollars.
“The sum of these eight bringings amounted to 278,174 gold dollars or Spanish ounces. Multiplied by sixteen gives 4,450,784 silver dollars. Deducting the royal fifth—985,953.75 dollars—left 3,464, 830.25 dollars as Toledo’s portion! Even after this great haul, effigies of different animals of gold were found from time to time. Mantles, also adorned with square pieces of gold, as well as robes made with feathers of divers colours were dug up. There is a tradition that in the huaca of Toledo there were two treasures, known as the great and little fish. The smaller only has been found. Between Huacho and Supe, the latter being 120 miles north of Callao, near a point called Atahuangri, there are two enormous mounds, resembling the Campana and San Miguel, of the Huatic Valley, soon to be described. About five miles from Patavilca tsouth, and near Supe) is a place called ‘Paramonga’ or the fortress The ruins of a fortress of great extent are here visible, the walls are of tempered clay, about six feet thick. The principal building stood on an eminence, but the walls were continued to the foot of it, like regular circumvallations; the ascent winding round the hill like a labyrinth, having many angles which probably served as outworks to defend the place. In this neighbourhood, much treasure has been excavated, all of which must have been concealed by the pre-historic Indian, as we have no evidence of the Incas ever having occupied this part of Peru after they had subdued it.”
Not far from Ancon, on a circuit of six to eight miles, “on every side you see skulls, legs, arms and whole skeletons lying about in the sand. . . . At Parmayo, fourteen miles further down north,” and on the sea-shore, is another great burying-ground. Thousands of skeletons lie about, thrown out by the treasure-seekers. It has more than half a mile of cutting through it. . . . It extends up the face of the hill from the sea-shore to the height of about 800 feet. . . . Whence come these hundreds and thousands of peoples, who are buried at Ancon? Time and time again the archæologist finds himself face to face with such questions, to which he can only shrug his shoulders and say with the natives—”Quien Sabe?”—who knows?
Dr. Hutchinson writes, under date of Oct. 30, 1872, in the South Pacific “Times”:—”I am come to the conclusion that Chancay is a great city of the dead, or has been an immense ossuary of Peru; for go where you will, on a mountain top or level plain, or by the seaside, you meet at every turn skulls and bones of all descriptions.”
In the Huatica Valley, which is an extensive ruin, there are seventeen mounds, called “huacas,” although, remarks the writer, “they present more the form of fortresses, or castles than burying-ground.” A triple wall surrounded the city. These walls are often three yards in thickness and from fifteen to twenty feet high. To the east of these is the enormous mound called Huaca of Pando . . . and the great ruins of fortresses, which natives entitle Huaca of the Bell. La compana, the Huacas of Pando, consisting of a series of large and small mounds, and extending over a stretch of ground incalculable without being measured, form a colossal accumulation. The mound “Bell” is 110 feet high. Towards Callao, there is a square plateau (278 yards long and 96 across) having on the top eight gradations of declivity, each from one to two yards lower than its neighbour, and making a total in length and breadth of about 278 yards, according to the calculation of J. B. Steere, of Michigan, Professor of Natural History.
The square plateau first mentioned at the base consists of two divisions . . . each measuring a perfect square 47 to 48 yards; the two joining, form the square of 96 yards. Besides this, is another square of 47 to 48 yards. On the top returning again, we find the same symmetry of measurement in the multiples of twelve, nearly all the ruins in this valley being the same, which is a fact for the curious. Was it by accident or design? . . . The mound is a truncated pyramidal form, and is calculated to contain a mass of 14,641,820 cubic feet of material. . . . The “Fortress” is a huge structure, 80 feet high and 150 yards in measurement. Great large square rooms show their outlines on the top but are filled with earth. Who brought this earth here, and with what object was the filling-up accomplished? The work of obliterating all space in these rooms with loose earth must have been almost as great as the construction of the building itself. . . . Two miles south, we find another similar structure, more spacious and with a greater number of apartments. . . . It is nearly 170 yards in length, and 168 in breadth, and 98 feet high. The whole of these ruins . . . were enclosed by high walls of adobes—large mud bricks, some from 1 to 2 yards in thickness, length and breadth. The “huaca” of the “Bell” contains about 20,220,840 cubic feet of material, while that of “San Miguel” has 25,650,800. These two buildings with their terraces, parapets and bastions, with a large number of rooms and squares—are now filled up with earth!
Near “Mira Flores,” is Ocheran—the largest mound in the Huatica valley. It has 95 feet of elevation and a width of 55 yards on the summit, and a total length of 428 yards, or 1,284 feet, another multiple of twelve. It is enclosed by a double wall, 816 yards in length by 700 across, thus enclosing 117 acres. Between Ocharas and the ocean are from l5 to 20 masses of ruins like those already described.
The Inca temple of the Sun, like the temple of Cholula on the plains of Mexico, is a sort of vast terraced pyramid of earth. It is from 200 to 300 feet high, and forms a semi-lunar shape that is beyond half a mile in extent. Its top measures about 10 acres square. Many of the walls are washed over with red paint, and are as fresh and bright as when centuries ago it was first put on. . . . In the Canete valley, opposite the Chincha Guano Islands, are extensive ruins, described by Squier. From the hill called “Hill of Gold,” copper and silver pins were taken like those used by ladies to pin their shawls; also tweezers for pulling out the hair of the eyebrows, eyelids and whiskers, as well as silver cups.
“The coast of Peru,” says Mr. Heath, “extends from Tumbey to the river Loa, a distance of 1,233 miles. Scattered over this whole extent, there are thousands of ruins besides those just mentioned, while nearly every hill and spire of the mountains have upon them or about them some relic of the past, and in every ravine, from the coast to the central plateau, there are ruins of walls, cities, fortresses, burial-vaults, and miles and miles of terraces and water-courses. Across the plateau and down the eastern slope of the Andes to the home of the wild Indian, and into the unknown impenetrable forest, still you find them. In the mountains, however, where showers of rain and snow with the terrific thunder and lightning are nearly constant, a number of months each year, the ruins are different. Of granite, porphyritic lime and silicated sand-stone, these massive, colossal, cyclopean structures have resisted the disintegration of time, geological transformation, earthquakes, and the sacrilegious destructive hand of the warrior and treasure-seeker. The masonry composing these walls, temples, houses, towers, fortresses, or sepulchres, is uncemented, held in place by the incline of the walls from the perpendicular, and adaptation of each stone to the place destined for it, the stones having from six to many sides, each dressed, and smoothed to fit another or others with such exactness that the blade of a small penknife cannot be inserted in any of the seams thus formed, whether in the central parts entirely hidden, or on the internal or external surfaces. These stones, selected with no reference to uniformity in shape or size, vary from one-half cubic foot to 1,500 cubic feet solid contents, and if in the many, many millions of stones you could find one that would fit in the place of another, it would be purely accidental. In ‘Triumph Street,’ in the city of Cuzco, in a part of the wall of the ancient house of the Virgins of the Sun, is a very large stone, known as ‘the stone of the twelve corners,’ since it is joined with those that surround it, by twelve faces, each having a different angle. Besides these twelve faces it has its internal one, and no one knows how many it has on its back that is hidden in the masonry. In the wall in the centre of the Cuzco fortress there are stones 13 feet high, 15 feet long, and 8 feet thick, and all have been quarried miles away. Near this city there is an oblong smooth boulder, 18 feet in its longer axis, and 12 feet in its lesser. On one side are large niches cut out, in which a man can stand and, by swaying his body, cause the stone to rock. These niches apparently were made solely for this purpose. One of the most wonderful and extensive of these works in stone is that called Ollantay-Tambo, a ruin situated 30 miles north of Cuzco, in a narrow ravine on the bank of the river Urubamba. It consists of a fortress constructed on the top of a sloping, craggy eminence. Extending from it to the plain below, is a stony stairway. At the top of the stairway are six large slabs, 12 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 3 feet thick, side by side, having between them and on top narrow strips of stone about 6 inches wide, frames as it were to the slabs, and all being of dressed stone. At the bottom of the hill, part of which was made by hand, and at the foot of the stairs, a stone wall 10 feet wide and 12 feet high extends some distance into the plain. In it are many niches, all facing the south.”
The ruins in the Islands in Lake Titicaca, where Incal history begins, have often been described.
At Tiahuanaco, a few miles south of the lake, there are stones in the form of columns, partly dressed, placed in line at certain distances from each other, and having an elevation above the ground of from 18 to 20 feet. In this same line there is a monolithic doorway, now broken, 10 feet high by 13 wide. The space cut out for the door is 7 feet 4 inches high by 3 feet 2 inches wide. The whole face of the stone above the door is engraved. Another similar, but smaller, lies on the ground beside it. These stones are of hard porphyry, and differ geologically from the surrounding rock; hence we infer they must have been brought from elsewhere.
At “Chavin de Huanta,” a town in the province of Huari, there are some ruins worthy of note. The entrance to them is by an alleyway, 6 feet wide and 9 feet high, roofed over with sandstone partly dressed, of more than 12 feet in length. On each side there are rooms 12 feet wide, roofed over by large pieces of sandstones, 11/2 feet thick and from 6 to 9 feet wide. The walls of the rooms are 6 feet thick, and have some loopholes in them, probably for ventilation. In the floor of this passage there is a very narrow entrance to a subterranean passage that passes beneath the river to the other side. From this many huacas, stone drinking-vessels, instruments of copper and silver, and a skeleton of an Indian sitting, were taken. The greater part of these ruins were situated over aqueducts. The bridge to these castles is made of three stones of dressed granite, 24 feet long, 2 feet wide by 11/2 thick. Some of the granite stones are covered with hieroglyphics.
At Corralones, 24 miles from Arequipa, there are hieroglyphics engraved on masses of granite, which appear as if painted with chalk. There are figures of men, llamas, circles, parallelograms, letters as an R and an O, and even remains of a system of astronomy.
At Huaytar, in the province of Castro Virreina, there is an edifice with the same engravings.
At Nazca, in the province of Ica, there are some wonderful ruins of aqueducts, four to five feet high and 3 feet wide, very straight, double-walled, of unfinished stone, flagged on top.
At Quelap, not far from Chochapayas, there have lately been examined some extensive works. A wall of dressed stone, 560 feet wide, 3,660 long, and 150 feet high. The lower part is solid. Another wall above this has 600 feet length, 500 width, and the same elevation of 150 feet. There are niches over both walls, three feet long, one-and-a-half wide and thick, containing the remains of those ancient inhabitants, some naked, others enveloped in shawls of cotton of distinct colours and well embroidered. . . .
Following the entrances of the second and highest wall, there are other sepulchres like small ovens, six feet high and twenty-four in circumference; in their base are flags, upon which some cadavers reposed. On the north side there is on the perpendicular rocky side of the mountain, a brick wall, having small windows, 600 feet from the bottom. No reason for this, nor means of approach, can now be found. The skillful construction of utensils of gold and silver that were found here, the ingenuity and solidity of this gigantic work of dressed stone, make it also probably of pre-Incal date. . . . Estimating five hundred ravines in the 1,200 miles of Peru, and ten miles of terraces of fifty tiers to each ravine which would only be five miles of twenty-five tiers to each side, we have 250,000 miles of stone wall, averaging three to four feet high—enough to encircle this globe ten times. Surprising as these estimates may seem, I am fully convinced that an actual measurement would more than double them, for these ravines vary from 30 to 100 miles in length. While at San Mateo, a town in the valley of the River Rimac, where the mountains rise to a height of 1,500 or 2,000 feet above the river bed, I counted two hundred tiers, none of which were less than four and many more than six miles long.
“Who then,” very pertinently enquires Mr. Heath, “were these people, cutting through sixty miles of granite; transplanting blocks of hard porphyry, of Baalbic dimensions, miles from the place where quarried, across valleys thousands of feet deep, over mountains, along plains, leaving no trace of how or where they carried them; people (said to be) ignorant of the use of wood, with the feeble llama their only beast of burden; who after having brought these stones fitted them into stones with Mosaic precision; terracing thousands of miles of mountain side; building hills of adobe and earth, and huge cities; leaving works in clay, stone, copper, silver, gold, and embroidery, many of which cannot be duplicated at the present age; people apparently vying with Dives in riches, Hercules in strength and energy, and the ant and bee in industry?”
Callao was submerged in 1746, and entirely destroyed. Lima was ruined in 1678; in 1746 only 20 houses out of 3,000 were left standing, while the ancient cities in the Huatica and Lurin valleys still remain in a comparatively good state of preservation. San Miguel de Puiro, founded by Pizzaro in 1531, was entirely destroyed in 1855, while the old ruins near by suffered little. Arequipa was thrown down in August, 1868, but the ruins near show no change. In engineering, at least, the present may learn from the past. We hope to show that it may in most things else.
To refer all these cyclopean constructions then to the days of the Incas is, as we have shown before, more inconsistent yet, and seems even a greater fallacy than that too common one of attributing every rock-temple of India to Buddhist excavators. As many authorities show—Dr. Heath among the rest—Incal history only dates back to the eleventh century, A.D., and the period, from that time to the Conquest, is utterly insufficient to account for such grandiose and innumerable works; nor do the Spanish historians know much of them. Nor again, must we forget that the temples of heathendom were odious to the narrow bigotry of the Roman Catholic fanatics of those days; and that, whenever the chance offered, they either converted them into Christian churches or razed them to the ground. Another strong objection to the idea lies in the fact that the Incas were destitute of a written language, and that these antique relics of bygone ages are covered with hieroglyphics. “It is granted that the Temple of the Sun, at Cuzco, was of Incal make, but that is the latest of the five styles of architecture visible in the Andes, each probably representing an age of human progress.”
The hieroglyphics of Peru and Central America have been; are, and will most probably remain for ever as dead a letter to our cryptographers as they were to the Incas. The latter like the barbarous ancient Chinese and Mexicans kept their records by means of a quipus (or knot in Peruvian)—a cord, several feet long, composed of different colored threads, from which a multicolored fringe was suspended; each color denoting a sensible object, and knots serving as ciphers. “The mysterious science of the quipus,” says Prescott, “supplied the Peruvians with the means of communicating their ideas to one another, and of transmitting them to future generations. . . .” Each locality, however, had its own method of interpreting these elaborate records, hence a quipus was only intelligible in the place where it was kept. “Many quipus have been taken from the graves, in excellent state of preservation in color and texture,” writes Dr. Heath; “but the lips, that alone could pronounce the verbal key, have for ever ceased their function, and the relic-seeker has failed to note the exact spot where each was found, so that the records, which could tell so much we want to know, will remain sealed till all is revealed at the last day.” . . . if anything at all is revealed then. But what is certainly as good as a revelation now, while our brains are in function, and our mind is acutely alive to some pre-eminently suggestive facts, is the incessant discoveries of archaeology, geology, ethnology and other sciences. It is the almost irrepressible conviction that man having existed upon earth millions of years—for all we know,—the theory of cycles is the only plausible theory to solve the great problems of humanity, the rise and fall of numberless nations and races, and the ethnological differences among the latter. This difference—which, though as marked as the one between a handsome and intellectual European and a digger Indian of Australia, yet makes the ignorant shudder and raise a great outcry at the thought of destroying the imaginary “great gulf between man and brute creation”—might thus be well accounted for. The digger Indian, then in company with many other savage, though to him superior, nations, which evidently are dying out to afford room to men and races of a superior kind, would have to be regarded in the same light as so many dying-out specimens of animals—and no more. Who can tell but that the forefathers of this flat-headed savage—forefathers who may have lived and prospered amidst the highest civilization before the glacial period—were in i the arts and sciences far beyond those of the present civilization—though it may be in quite another direction’? That man has lived in America, at least 50,000 years ago, is now proved scientifically and remains a fact beyond doubt or cavil. In a lecture delivered at Manchester, in June last, by Mr. H. A. Allbutt, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society, the lecturer stated the following:—”Near New Orleans, in one part of the modern delta, in excavating for gas works, a series of beds, almost wholly made up of vegetable matter, were dug through. In the excavation, at a depth of 16 feet from the upper surface, and beneath four buried forests, one on the top of the other, the labourers discovered some charcoal and the skeleton of a man, the cranium of which was reported to be that of the type of the aboriginal Red Indian race. To this skeleton Dr. Dowler ascribed an antiquity of some 50,000 years.” The irrepressible cycle in the course of time brought down the descendants of the contemporaries of the late inhabitant of this skeleton, and intellectually as well as physically they have degenerated, as the present elephant has degenerated from his proud and monstrous forefather, the antediluvian Sivatherium whose fossil remains are still found in the Himalayas; or, as the lizard has from the plesiosaurus. Why should man be the only specimen upon earth which has never changed in form since the first day of his appearance upon this planet? The fancied superiority of every generation of mankind over the preceding one is not yet so well established as to make it impossible for us to learn some day that, as in everything else, the theory is a two-sided question—incessant progress on the one side and an as irresistible decadence on the other of the cycle. “Even as regards knowledge and power, the advance, which some claim as a characteristic feature of humanity, is effected by exceptional individuals who arise in certain races under favourable circumstances only, and is quite compatible with long intervals of immobility, and even of decline,” 9 says a modern man of science. This point is corroborated by what we see in the modern degenerate descendants of the great and powerful races of ancient America—the Peruvians and the Mexicans. “How changed! How fallen from their greatness must have been the Incas, when a little band of one hundred and sixty men could penetrate, uninjured, to their mountain homes, murder their worshipped kings and thousands of their warriors, and carry away their riches, and that, too, in a country where a few men with stones could resist successfully an army! Who could recognize in the present Inichua and Aymara Indians their noble ancestry?” . . . Thus writes Dr. Heath, and his conviction that America was once united with Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, seems as firm as our own. There must exist geological and physical cycles as well as intellectual and spiritual; globes and planets, as well as races and nations, are born to grow, progress, decline and—die. Great nations split, scatter into small tribes, lose all remembrance of their integrity, gradually fall into their primitive state and—disappear, one after the other, from the face of the earth. So do great continents. Ceylon must have formed, once upon a time, part of the Indian continent. So, to all appearances, was Spain once joined to Africa, the narrow channel between Gibraltar and the latter continent having been once upon a time dry land. Gibraltar is full of large apes of the same kind as those which are found in great numbers on the opposite side on the African coast, whereas nowhere in Spain is either a monkey or ape to be found at any place whatever. And the caves of Gibraltar are also full of gigantic human bones, supporting the theory that they belong to an antediluvian race of men. The same Dr. Heath mentions the town of Eten in 70 S. latitude of America, in which the inhabitants of an unknown tribe of men speak a monosyllabic language that imported Chinese labourers understood from the first day of their arrival. They have their own laws, customs and dress, neither holding nor permitting communication with the outside world. No one can tell whence they came or when; whether it was before or after the Spanish Conquest. They are a living mystery to all, who chance to visit them. . . .
With such facts before us to puzzle exact science herself, and show our entire ignorance of the past verily, we recognise no right of any man on earth—whether in geography or ethnology, in exact or abstract sciences—to tell his neighbour—”so far shalt thou go, and no further!”
But, recognizing our debt of gratitude to Dr. Heath of Kansas, whose able and interesting paper has furnished us with such a number of facts and suggested such possibilities, we can do no better than quote his concluding reflections. “Thirteen thousand years ago,” he writes, “Vega or a Lyræ, was the north polar star; since then how many changes has she seen in our planet! How many nations and races spring into life, rise to their zenith of splendour, and then decay; and when we shall have been gone thirteen thousand years, and once more she resumes her post at the north, completing a ‘Platonic or Great Year,’ think you that those who shall fill our places on the earth at that time will be more conversant with our history than we are of those that have passed? Verily might we exclaim, in terms almost psalmistic, ‘Great God, Creator and Director of the Universe, what is man that Thou art mindful of him’!”
Amen! ought to be the response of such as yet believe in a God who is “the Creator and Director of the Universe.”
NOTES ON “A LAND OF MYSTERY”
To the Editor of the THEOSOPHIST—I have read with much pleasure your excellent article on the “Land of Mystery.” In it you show a spirit of inquiry and love of truth which are truly commendable in you and cannot fail to command the approbation and praise of all unbiased readers. But there are certain points in it, in which I cannot but join issue with you. In order to account for the most striking resemblances that existed in the manners, customs, social habits and traditions of the primitive peoples of the two worlds, you have recourse to the old Platonic theory of a land-connection between them. But the recent researches in the Novemyra have once for all exploded that theory. They prove that, with the exception of the severance of Australia from Asia, there never was a submersion of land on so gigantic a scale as to produce an Atlantic or a Pacific Ocean, that, ever since their formation, the seas have never changed their ancient basins on any very large scale. Professor Geike, in his physical geography holds that the continents have always occupied the positions they do now, except that, for a few miles, their coasts have sometimes advanced into and receded from the sea.
You would not have fallen into any error, had you accepted M. Quatrefages’ theory of migrations by sea. The plains of Central Asia are accepted by all monogenists as the centre of appearance of the human race. From this place successive waves of emigrants radiated to the utmost verge of the world. It is no wonder that the ancient Chinese, Hindus, Egyptians, Peruvians and Mexicans—men who once inhabited the same place—should show the strong resemblances in certain points of their life. The proximity of the two continents at Behring Straits enabled immigrants to pass from Asia to America. A little to the south is the current of Tassen, the Kourosivo or black stream of the Japanese, which opens a great route for Asiatic navigators. The Chinese have been a maritime nation from remote antiquity and it is not impossible that their barges might have been like those of the Portuguese navigator, Cabral, in modern times, driven by accident to the coast of America. But, leaving all questions of possibilities and accidents aside, we know that the Chinese had discovered the magnetic needle even so early as B.C. 2,000. With its aid and that of the current of Tassen, they had no very considerable difficulty to cross to America. They established, as Paz Soldan informs us in his Geografia del Peru, a little colony there; and Buddhist missionaries “towards the close of the fifth century sent religious missions to carry to Fou-Sang (America) the doctrines of Buddha.” This will no doubt be unpleasant to many European readers. They are averse to crediting a statement that takes the honour of the discovery of America from them and assigns it to what they are graciously pleased to call “a semi-barbarous Asiatic nation.” Nevertheless, it is an unquestionable truth. Chapter XVIII or the Human Species by A. De Quatrefages will be an interesting reading to any one who may be eager to know something of the Chinese discovery of America, but the space at his command being small, he gives a very meagre account of it in his book. I earnestly hope you will complete your interesting article by adverting to this and giving us full particulars of all that is known about it. The shedding of light on a point, which has hitherto been involved in mysterious darkness, will not be unworthy of the pen of one, the be-all and end-all of whose life is the search of truth and, when found, to abide by it, be it at whatever cost it may be.
Calcutta, 11th July.
Scant leisure this month prevents our making any detailed answer to the objections to the Atlantan hypothesis intelligently put forth by our subscriber. But let us see whether—even though based upon “recent researches” which “have once for all exploded that theory”—they are as formidable as at first sight they may appear.
Without entering into the subject too deeply, we may limit ourselves to but one brief remark. More than one scientific question, which at one time has seemingly been put at rest for ever, has exploded at a subsequent one over the heads of theorists who had forgotten the danger of trying to elevate a simple theory into an infallible dogma. We have not questioned the assertion that “there never was a submersion of land on so gigantic a scale as to produce an Atlantic or a Pacific Ocean,” for we never pretended to suggest new theories for the formation of oceans. The latter may have been where they now are since the time of their first appearance, and yet whole continents been broken into fragments partially engulfed, and left innumerable islands, as seems the case with the submerged Atlantis. What we meant was that, at some pre-historic time and long after the globe teemed with civilized nations, Asia, America and perhaps Europe were parts of one vast continental formation, whether united by such narrow strips of land as evidently once existed where now is Behring Strait (which connects the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans and has a depth of hardly more than twenty to twenty-five fathoms) or by larger stretches of land. Nor shall we fight the monogenists who claim Central Asia as the one cradle place of humanity—but leave the task to the polygenists who are able to do it far more successfully than ourselves. But, in any case, before we can accept the theory of monogenesis, its advocates must offer us some unanswerable hypothesis to account for the observed differences in human types better than that of “divarication caused by difference of climate, habits and religious culture.” M. Quatrefages may remain, as ever, indisputably a most distinguished naturalist—physician, chemist and zoologist—yet we fail to understand why we should accept his theories in preference to all others. Mr. Amrita Lal Bisvas evidently refers to a narrative of some scientific travels along the shores of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, by this eminent Frenchman, entitled—”Souvenirs d’un Naturaliste.” He seems to regard M. Quatrefages in the light of an infallible Pope upon all scientific questions: we do not, though he was a member of the French Academy and a professor of ethnology. His theory, about the migrations by sea, may be offset by about an hundred others which directly oppose it. It is just because we have devoted our whole life to the research of truth—for which complimentary admission we thank our critic—that we never accept on faith any authority upon any question whatsoever; nor, pursuing, as we do, TRUTH and progress through a full and fearless enquiry, untrammelled by any consideration, would we advise any of our friends to do otherwise.
Having said so much, we may now give a few of our reasons for believing in the alleged “fable” of the submerged Atlantis—though we explained ourselves at length upon the subject in Isis Unveiled (Vol. I, pp. 590, et seq.).
First.—We have as evidence the most ancient traditions of various and widely-separated peoples—legends in India, in ancient Greece, Madagascar, Sumatra, Java, and all the principal isles of Polynesia, as well as those of both Americas. Among savages, as in the traditions of the richest literature in the world—the Sanskrit literature of India—there is an agreement in saying that, ages ago, there existed in the Pacific Ocean, a large continent which, by a geological upheaval, was engulfed by the sea. And it is our firm belief—held, of course, subject to correction—that most, if not all of the islands from the Malayan Archipelago to Polynesia, are fragments of that once immense submerged continent. Both Malacca and Polynesia, which lie at the two extremes of the Ocean and which, since the memory of man, never had nor could have any intercourse with, or even a knowledge of each other, have yet a tradition, common to all the islands and islets, that their respective countries extended far, far out into sea; that there were in the world but two immense continents, one inhabited by yellow, the other by dark men; and that the ocean, by command of the gods and to punish them for their incessant quarrelling, swallowed them up.
2. Notwithstanding the geographical fact that New Zealand, and Sandwich and Easter Islands, are at a distance, from each other, of between 800 and 1,000 leagues; and that, according to every testimony, neither these nor any other intermediate islands, for instance, the Marquesan, Society, Feejee, Tahitian, Samoan and other islands, could, since they became islands, ignorant as their people were of the compass, have communicated with each other before the arrival of Europeans; yet, they, one and all, maintain that their respective countries extended far toward the west, on the Asian side. Moreover, with very small differences, they all speak dialects evidently of the same language, and understand each other with little difficulty; have the same religious beliefs and superstitions; and pretty much the same customs. And as few of the Polynesian islands were discovered earlier than a century ago, and the Pacific Ocean itself was unknown to Europe until the days of Columbus, and these islanders have never ceased repeating the same old traditions since the Europeans first set foot on their shores, it seems to us a logical inference that our theory is nearer to the truth than any other. Chance would have to change its name and meaning, were all this due but to chance alone.
1. See Stephens’ Central America.
2. A paper published by Mr. E. R. Heath in the Kansas City Review of Science and Industry, Nov., 1878.
3. This “idea” is plainly expressed and asserted as a fact by Plato in his Banquet: and was taken up by Lord Bacon in his New Atlantis.
4. “The name America,” said I, in Isis Unveiled, (Vol. 2, p. 591) three years ago, “may one day be found closely related to Meru, the sacred mount in the centre of the seven continents.” When first discovered, America was found to bear among some native tribes the name of Atlanta. In the States of Central America we find the name Amerih, signifying, like Meru, a great mountain. The origin of the Kamas Indians of America is also unknown.
5. Smithsonian contributions to Knowledge, Vol. 1.
6. New American Cyclopaedia, Art, “Teotihuacan,”
7. On Ancient Sculpturing on Rocks in Kumaon. India, similar to those found on monoliths and rocks in Europe. By J. H. Rivett-Carnac, Bengal Civil Service, C. I. E., F. S. A., M. R. A. S. F. G. S., &c
8. See Kansas City Review of Science and Industry, November, 1878.
9. Journal of Science for February, Article—The Alleged Distinction between Man and Brute.”