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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Saturday, 12 December 2015
Incidents of travel
Though Copan bears little resemblance now to the jungle shrouded place Stephens and Catherwood visited I was not disappointed; it was still possible with an effort of imagination to share the sense of wonder they experienced when they looked across the swollen river to see the wall of the acropolis rising before them. And as I reluctantly left the site as darkness was falling the atmosphere intensified and my sense of mystery was stirred again. I am sure that a lot of the feelings I experienced are attributable to my long digestion of Stephens' book.
Stephens in his writing and Catherwood in his paintings of course exaggerated the romantic aspects of their discoveries, but they never lost sight of their role as accurate recorders of the wonderful things they revealed, and Stephens in particular showed himself to be extremely far-sighted in his prediction that the hieroglyphs on the monuments would one day be deciphered to reveal a lost history of the Mayans. In my view a great service was done by these two remarkable men who, by their work, stimulated the imaginations of many in America and elsewhere, and helped bring the remarkable civilisation of the Mayans to the attention of the world.