Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination, 1820-1915

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Description

During Mexico's first century of independence, European and American explorers rediscovered its pre-Hispanic past. Finding the jungle-covered ruins of lost cities and artifacts inscribed with unintelligible hieroglyphs—and having no idea of the age, authorship, or purpose of these antiquities—amateur archaeologists, artists, photographers, and religious writers set about claiming Mexico's pre-Hispanic patrimony as a rightful part of the United States' cultural heritage.

In this insightful work, Tripp Evans explores why nineteenth-century Americans felt entitled to appropriate Mexico's cultural heritage as the United States' own. He focuses in particular on five well-known figures—American writer and amateur archaeologist John Lloyd Stephens, British architect Frederick Catherwood, Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the French émigré photographers Désiré Charnay and Augustus Le Plongeon. Setting these figures in historical and cultural context, Evans uncovers their varying motives, including the Manifest Destiny-inspired desire to create a national museum of American antiquities in New York City, the attempt to identify the ancient Maya as part of the Lost Tribes of Israel (and so substantiate the Book of Mormon), and the hope of proving that ancient Mesoamerica was the cradle of North American and even Northern European civilization. Fascinating stories in themselves, these accounts of the first explorers also add an important new chapter to the early history of Mesoamerican archaeology.

Product Details

Price
£21.99
Publisher
University of Texas Press
Publish Date
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9780292722217
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