incidents of travel in the yucatan

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Detailed views of the dazzling ancient monuments of Central America through the eyes (and hands) of english explorers. 

Castle at Tulum, 1844, Frederick Catherwood. Getty Research Institute.
Plate 158, No. 2 in Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, 1853, John Lloyd Stephens. Getty Research Institute.
[Idol and altar at Copan] in Views of ancient monuments in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan, 1844, Frederick Catherwood. Getty Research Institute.
Archway; Casa del Governador, Uxmal, Frederick Catherwood (author), Andrew Picken (lithographer). Getty Research Institute.

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America, say historians, was peopled by savages; but savages never reared these structures, savages never carved these stones… standing as they do in the depths of a tropical forest, silent and solemn, strange in design, excellent in sculpture, rich in ornament… their whole history so entirely unknown, with hieroglyphics explaining all, but perfectly unintelligible. 

… No Champollion has yet brought to them the energies of his inquiring mind. 

Who shall read them?

Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens, illustrations by Frederick Catherwood  (1841)

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Mayan Ruins, Documented

The earliest-known visual documentation of the extraordinary Mayan ruins at Copan, Honduras, can be found in this set of prints from two 19th-century texts on Central America, illustrated by artist and architect Frederick Catherwood

Page through the entirely digitized Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan here.

Page through Views of ancient monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan here.


This week’s pick from the Getty Research Portal, a one-stop shop for public domain art history books.