Cover image for Romancing the Maya : Mexican antiquity in the American imagination, 1820-1915
Romancing the Maya : Mexican antiquity in the American imagination, 1820-1915
Evans, R. Tripp, 1968-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Austin : University of Texas Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 202 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
The second discovery of America -- Incidents of transcription : American antiquity in the work of Stephens and Catherwood -- Joseph Smith and the archaeology of Revelation -- The Toltec lens of Desire Charnay -- Bordering on the magnificent : Augustus and Alice Le Plongeon in the Kingdom of Móo.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1435 .E88 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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 #65533;migr#65533; photographers D#65533;sir#65533; 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.

Author Notes

R. Tripp Evans is Assistant Professor of Art History at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
1 The Second Discovery of Americap. 10
2 Incidents of Transcription: 'American' Antiquity in the Work of Stephens and Catherwoodp. 44
3 Joseph Smith and the Archaeology of Revelationp. 88
4 The Toltec Lens of Desire Charnayp. 103
5 Bordering on the Magnificent: Augustus and Alice Le Plongeon in the Kingdom of Moop. 126
Epiloguep. 153
Notesp. 163
Bibliographyp. 183
Indexp. 191