LOST CITIES IN THE JUNGLE

Chichen_Itza_Castillo_Frederick Catherwood_1843_drawingThe Castle of Chichen-Itza, 1843, drawing by Frederick Catherwood

“In 1519 Hernan Cortez, the great Spanish conquistator stormed and took the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. He did not then, and he never knew, that it was built upon the ruins of the Mayan civilization. Five years later he travelled across what is now the little republic of Honduras, hacking his way foot by foot through an almost impene-trable forest given over to reptiles and insects and the odours of putrefaction. Had he turned aside from the path he was cutting, by only a fraction, he would have come to a little stream where he would have found in the midst of all this luxuriant foliage the ruins of what had once been a great city. It was the city of Copan, the chief light amongst others such as Tikal or Palenque of the Mayan civilization which existed between A.D. 176 and A.D. 620. They are still, far from all other human habitations, lost in the powerful tropical forest which like some sylvan boa-constrictor, has literally swallowed them up and is now devouring them at its leisure, prising the finehewn, close-laid stones apart with its writhing roots and tendrils.”

John Stewart Collis in “The Vision of Glory, The extraordinary Nature of the Ordinary”

Façade_principale_du_palais_des_Nonnes_Désiré Charnay_1859AMain Front of the Palace of the Nuns, Chichen-Itza 1859, photography by Désiré Charnay