Diego de Landa
Diego de Landa (1524- 1579) was the Franciscan bishop of Yucatán who played a significant part in promoting the idea that the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel had migrated to the Americas, citing local Mayan legends that their ancestors had come from the East, aided by divine intervention! Others, such as Brasseur de Bourbourg, seized on this idea and expanded it to link the Maya with Atlantis.
Landa was ‘a nasty piece of work’, showing great cruelty towards the indigenous people and little respect for their culture. He is also considered to have produced a truly dreadful decipherment of the Mayan script. Later attempts by Brasseur de Bourbourg and Augustus le Plongeon were equally unsuccessful.
Jack E. Churchward is the great-grandson of James Churchward, the creator of Mu. In 2011 Jack republished what he describes as the definitive edition of James’ 1926 The Lost Continent of Mu which includes a new index and added appendices. It is still just the concoction of a fertile mind. My scepticism and that of many others is reflected in a recent blog from Dale Drinnon(a).
Jack has also a promotional website(b), where he candidly wrote(c) that “the Troano Manuscript, as a reference for the sinking of Mu, must be removed from the list, if there is to be any legitimacy accorded to an evaluation of Churchward’s theories on Mu.” Jack was highlighting the unreliability of James’ translation of the Troano Manuscript, influenced as it was by the earlier seriously flawed attempts by Bishop Diego De Landa (1524-1579), Brasseur de Bourbourg and LePlongeon. Jason Colavito has added further comments(d) regarding Jack’s blog.
*Jack continues to exploit his great-grandfather’s misguided ideas with the publication of The Stone Tablets of Mu in August 2018.
Augustus le Plongeon (1826-1909) was born on Jersey in the Channel Islands. He was a professional photographer and amateur archaeologist, who was an enthusiastic follower of Ignatius Donnelly’s idea that the alphabets of the Old and New Worlds were derived from a common Phoenician root via Atlantis. He also attempted to build on the efforts of Diego deLanda and Brasseur de Bourbourg to decipher the Mayan hieroglyphics. Both Donnelly’s efforts to link Latin with Mayan glyphs and deLanda’s attempt to identify the Mayan alphabet bore little fruit, reminiscent of Kircher’s equally futile struggle with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Le Plongeon with comparable wasted dedication, attempted to convince the world that the Mayan language was in fact Greek. It would have been easier to prove that chalk is cheese. His attachment to the Mayan civilisation also inspired him to claim that they were the founders of the culture of Ancient Egypt via a trip westward through Asia and on to the Mediterranean. When it was eventually demonstrated that the Mayan culture was considerably younger than that of ancient Egypt, le Plongeon refused to relinquish his absurd ideas and continued to claim that the Maya were the oldest people on the planet(e).
Le Plongeon was alone in suggesting that Atlantis was a colony of the Maya.
He was also the creator of numerous other bizarre notions regarding such matters as Mu and the last words of Christ. Incidentally, like Abbe Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, Le Plongeon equated Mu with Plato’s Atlantis(e). He was convinced that the Mayan inscriptions on the pyramid of Xochicalco told the story of the destruction of Atlantis. It is remarkable that the author of such outlandish notions is quoted so frequently today, since few accept that he has contributed much to the advancement of knowledge. Jörg Dendl offers an extensive critique, in German, of Le Plongeon’s views(c) and worth a read.
Robert Schoch has suggested(a) that Le Plongeon, himself a freemason, had another agenda, namely, to establish links between freemasonry and the ancient Maya. A potted biography of Le Plongeon on the Internet(b) is also to be recommended.
Le Plongeon’s Vestiges of the Maya is available online(d).
*(a) http://www.robertschoch.net/articles/westernsphinx.pdf (no longer available) See:(one fifth way down) https://web.archive.org/web/20050530100238/http://www.robertschoch.net/articles/westernsphinx.pdf
(b) http://maya.csueastbay.edu/archaeoplanet/LgdPage/LepKehoe.htm (link broken April 2019) See: https://web.archive.org/web/20180801075410/http://maya.csueastbay.edu/archaeoplanet/LgdPage/LepKehoe.htm*
Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg (1814-1874) was born in Bourbourg, near Dunkirk, France. He entered the priesthood and in 1845 he left for Canada and was for a short time professor of ecclesiastical history at Quebec. He worked as a missionary in Mexico and Central America where he developed an intense interest in the native South Americans and their origins. In 1859 he published a history of the Aztecs.
Hubert H. Bancroft (1832-1918), the American historian, noted[1319.125-132] that initially Brasseur was highly sceptical of the reality of Atlantis, but as his studies deepened he became an enthusiastic believer.
Brasseur de Bourbourg’s ability to track down rare manuscripts was legendary. He studied the thoroughly flawed interpretation of Mayan hieroglyphics by Bishop Diego de Landa, produced in the 16th century. He concluded that the Maya were originally from Atlantis, based on Plato’s description of Atlantean culture. This view was expressed in his 1868 book, Quatre Lettres sur le Méxique.
Brasseur also translated local languages into Roman script and perhaps his most important contribution was a French translation of the Popul Vuh, sacred book of the Quiché branch of the Maya, which was published in 1861. An English translation is now available on the Internet(a).
Nigel Davies has revealed that Brasseur, as well as Lord Kingsborough (1795-1829), concluded that the native Americans were in fact the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. This idea had been suggested by centuries earlier by Diego de Landa (1524- 1579), the Franciscan bishop of Yucatán.
Iin the mid-19th century, Brasseur proposed that Atlantis had existed on a large landmass in the Atlantic of which Hispaniola is a remnant. He believed that this vast peninsula extended to the vicinity of the Canaries. This idea was based on his own, largely incorrect, interpretation of Mayan glyphs. The American Hyde Clarke and the Guatemalan doctor Paul Felix Cabrera shared similar location theories.
Jason Colavito has pointed out that Brasseur was probably the first to suggest the possibility that some form of Pole Shift led to the destruction of Atlantis(b). This idea was published in 1873 and is available in an English translation by Colavito(c).
After what he thought was reference to a flooded land called Mu, one of his last conclusions was that Mu and Atlantis were the same and that Mu was the correct name for the flooded land. This fantasy led Augustus le Plongeon to revise this theory, suggesting that refugees from both Mu and Atlantis were the founders of the Mayan civilisation.