National Geographic : 1931 Jul
UNEARTHING AMERICA'S ANCIENT HISTORY Here, then, is indispu table geologic proof that the pyramid was older than the lava flow. Recognizing the fundamental impor tance of this at least geologically dated pyr amid, the National Geographic Society carried on excavations here for two years under Dr. Byron Cum mings, of the Univer sity of Arizona,* and also sent Dr. N. H. Darton, of the United States Geological Sur vey, to study the geo logical evidence. While it was naturally impos sible to assign any thing li k e a definite date for this lava flow, the writer understands that Doctor Darton is inclined to place it be tween three and four thousand years ago. A pyramid four, or even only three, thousand years old bids fair to be our earliest example of American architec ture. The antiquity of the Pyramid of Cuicuilco was further authenti cated by the discovery of an archaic cemetery buried under the same lava flow, but on the , f. A JAGUAR WIIICII NEARLY GOT HER MAN The American jaguar almost never attacks man, but the female shown here was very nearly a fatal exception. Two Indians, hunting near Chichen Itza, came upon the cat, which leaped toward them. One fired twice, registering a hit each time, but before he could fire again the cat was upon him, clawing at his face. Finally, his companion suc ceeded in dispatching the beast at close range, but not until the man who was down had had his arms badly gashed. opposite side, near the village of San Angel. Some time before Xitli poured its molten rock over this part of the Valley of Mex ico, there had been a prehistoric cemetery on the edge of what is now the modern vil lage of San Angel. Here, in the coarse gravel just under the surface, lay skele tons of these early Americans, perhaps related to the builders of Cuicuilco, sur * See, also, "Ruins of Cuicuilco May Revolu tionize Our History of Ancient America," by Byron Cummings, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for August, 1923. rounded by their simple utensils-bowls, pots and dishes of baked clay, obsidian knives-and little baked clay figurines, which were probably the very agricultural fetishes with which they sought to protect their fields and ward off evil in the second millennium B. C. MAYA CIVILIZATION THE PEAK OF ANCIENT AMERICAN CULTURE These archaic peoples of central Mexico may have been the earliest users of corn as a food, and perhaps were the first to set 107 I' "~ ~ C:r~ -i ;"