KatzAEs work is examined in juxtaposition with the work of 19th-century artist Frederick Catherwood, whose photographs and drawings of Mayan ruins originally accompanied the travel writing of John Lloyd Stephens
. An essay by filmmaker and curator Jesse Lerner (Claremont Colleges) considers the links between history, archaeology, and art.
FACTUAL The story of how, in 1839, artist Frederick Catherwood and travel writer John Lloyd Stephens
visited Central America and discovered hidden Mayan cities.
Ruins, revolution, and manifest destiny; John Lloyd Stephens
creates the Maya.
Back in 1839, American traveler John Lloyd Stephens
visited a series of Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.
He treats the "Skeptical Piety of Protestant Pilgrims" (e.g., Edward Robinson, and William Prime) in relation to the less mainstream "Alternative Orthodoxies" (e.g., Clorinda Minor, Orson Hyde, and William Henry Odenheimer); "Skeptical Oriental Romance" (e.g., John Lloyd Stephens
, and William Cullen Bryant) more or less in contrast with " Quotidian Pilgrimages," travel accounts that emphasize farcical elements (e.g., Mark Twain, satirist, and David Dorr, traveler and slave).
In recent years, little of the architecture was visible; a visit was almost like what John Lloyd Stephens
had first seen when he stumbled upon Palenque in 1840--thick vines and leaves smothering an architecture seeming from another planet.
The Muslim hatred of Jews, for which I adduce the observations of Chateaubriand, John Lloyd Stephens
, and Edward Lane, all of whom were appalled by it, is immemorial.
Financially strapped and anxious to continue his research, Squier accepted a diplomatic appointment to Central America in 1849 in the hopes that it would allow him (as it had for John Lloyd Stephens
in Yucatan) to investigate possible connections between the Moundbuilders and the peoples of the region.
The Yucatan chapter incisively compares Smithson's travels with those on which he (ironically) modeled himself (John Lloyd Stephens
's 1843 Incidents of Travel in Yucatan), claiming that there is far more of the gringo imperialist in Smithson than we want to believe.
Back in the heroic age of American literacy, Edgar Allan Poe reviewed John Lloyd Stephens
's Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land in the New York Review (October 1837)--sixteen pages of small print in which Poe exercises his immense and subtle intelligence by playing with biblical prophecy and the indisputable fact that Stephens (and various Romans and Bedouin before him, never mind Seetzen and Burckhardt) crossed Idumea (the biblical Edom) despite both Ezekiel and Isaiah prophesying that none shall pass through it "for an eternity of eternities." Our contemporary eye notes Poe's quoting Isaiah's Hebrew and the Septuagint's Greek in Hebrew and Greek fonts that would give a modern editor apoplexy.