The men behind the legacy
Adventurers who discovered a culture
After having been amazed visiting the Mayan World, now it’s time to tell you the story about the characters that made it possible that everything we know about the Mayans has reached our days. Let’s talk about those travelers, who were responsible for deciphering this beautiful culture.
These great adventurers were the first persons to discover and explore the wonders of the Mayab. Thanks to them we know how the Mayan cities looked in the past. After reading this blog post, you will know more about these adventurous men.
Alfred Percival Maudslay
This great explorer was one of the first to study Chichen Itza. Percival was born in England, and he was a diplomat and archaeologist. Alfred explored the Mayans cities of Tikal, Copan, Palenque, and Yaxchilan. He was the first explorer to make a description of this archaeological site of Chiapas. You can find all his work in one book called: “Biología Centrali-Americana,” where he compiled all his discovering.
Catherwood’s drawings have made history, thanks to the accuracy with which he managed to capture each of the scenarios he visited in the Mayan World. He was born in London in 1799, and he was a great architect, draftsman and of course a great archaeologist. During the nineteenth century, Frederick met another great explorer: John Loyd Stephens. Both traveled through the Yucatan Peninsula and wrote: “Incidents of trips to Yucatan” where they compiled their discoveries.
John Loyd Stephens
John was born in the United States during the year 1805 and raised in New York. He was a writer, lawyer, diplomat, traveler, and explorer. Together with Catherwood, they explored the cities of Uxmal, Chichén Itzá, Tulum and Izamal, recording all those studies in a second volume of “Incidents of travel in Yucatán.” In addition to his contributions to the Mayan World, John participated in the planning the railroad, which would cross the isthmus of Panama.
It is said that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were inspired by Silvanus to create his famous character Indiana Jones because he was an archaeologist but a spy too. He was part of the Carnegie Institute in Washington during 1918, from which he obtained sufficient funds for his research. His exploration area included cities such as Chichén Itzá and Uxmal. He wrote many works among which stand out: “The Ancient Mayan,” “The Inscriptions of Peten” and “An Introduction to the Study of Maya Hieroglyphs.”
During his years of study, he found in a library the book of Fray Diego de Landa: “Relation of the things of Yucatan,” which he translated into Russian. Yuri was able to identify 29 signs of the Mayan alphabet, which was essential to understand the Mayan writing. After that, he was able to decipher the Dresden, Paris and Madrid Maya codices. This allowed him to establish that Maya writing was phonetic and syllabic-morphemic.
These are just some of the great adventurers who were guided by their passion for discovering one of the most amazing cultures in the world.