Treasure Seekers: Code of the Maya Kings

Director(s): Ann Carroll

Code of Maya Kings

They would tantalize explorers

for hundreds of years,

ruined cities lost in the jungles

of Central America and Mexico.

Inscrutable faces etched in stone.

Mysterious writing.

Who had left these messages

from the past?

It would take more than a century to

unlock the secrets of the ancient Maya.

Two extraordinary people

would lead the way.

Separated by 100 years,

they would unveil one of the greatest

mysteries of archeology.

Code of Maya Kings

Chichen Itza, Mexico 1842.

An American lawyer named

John Lloyd Stephens

wanders the empty ruins

looking for clues.

He knows what he wants to find.

It has kept him going

through two harrowing journeys,

exploring the desolate jungles

of Central America.

Kept him pushing on

through mud and malaria,

poisonous snakes, and insect-plagued

nights under the stars.

Stephens, the lawyer,

was looking for proof,

undeniable evidence that these ruins

were not built by the Egyptians

or the Phoenicians or the Lost Tribes

of Israel.

And here at Chichen Itza he thinks

that he's found it at least.

Writing unlike that of

any other civilization he knows.

The same writing he'd seen at other

ruined cities hundreds of miles away.

Proof of an ancient empire

of Native Americans

more sophisticated than anyone

believed possible.

Stephens himself was a product of

the New World.

He was born in 1805, the son of

a wealthy New York merchant.

The city wasn't much more than

a Dutch village,

but it was the hub of a new nation.

Stephens grew up

along the Hudson River

watching the ships come in

from around the world.

After reading law,

he opened a practice on Wall Street.

Soon he got into politics,

campaigning vigorously for

Andrew Jackson for President.

But months of shouting to the crowds

gave him a serious throat infection.

His doctor prescribed a common remedy

for wealthy young men-

a grand tour of Europe.

The ancient ruins of Italy and Greece

only piqued his curiosity.

Stephens went on to Egypt,

and spent three months

floating up the Nile,

visiting the temples and monuments

along the way.

Only a decade before a Frenchman

had deciphered the hieroglyphs,

revealing the rich history

of Egypt's kings and queens.

Stephens was fascinated,

and he still wasn't ready to go home.

He'd seen pictures of

a fantastic ancient city in Arabia,

lost for century to all

but the Bedouins.

Everyone told him the journey was too

perilous for an unaccompanied American,

so Stephens disguised himself

as a Turkish merchant

and took the name Abul Hassis.

In 1836, John Lloyd Stephens

was the first American to set eyes

on the ruins of Petra.

In Roman times it had been one of

the greatest cities of the East.

Stephens still found it dazzling:

"A temple delicate and limpid,

carved like a cameo

from a solid mountain wall,

the first view

of that superb facade

must produce an effect

which will never pass away."

Stephens letters home

were so vivid and imaginative,

they were published

in a monthly magazine.

Soon, he was writing books recounting

his exotic adventures around the world.

The lawyer had become

a literary sensation.

He was a seasoned observer,

he was an incredible observer.

In fact, Herman Melville

of Moby Dick fame, recalled one time

when he was in church,

Herman Melville was, he was a kid.

He heard that Stephens

was in the front row.

And when Stephens left,

Melville writes,

"I thought this man must have great

huge eyes that bulged through his head,

he was such a good observer,"

because Melville had read his stuff.

Back in New York the life

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Ann Carroll

Ann Carroll is a camogie player. twice an All Ireland inter-county medalist and the outstanding personality in the first decade of the history of the All-Ireland Senior Club Camogie Championship winning medals with both St Patrick’s, Glengoole from Tipperary and St Paul’s from Kilkenny. She played inter-county camogie for both Tipperary and Kilkenny and Interprovincial camogie for both Munster and Leinster. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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