Diego de Landa
The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel is a reference to the ten of the twelve tribes deported from the Kingdom of Israel after its conquest by Assyria in 722 BC.
The variety of identifications put forward for some or all of these groups is quite remarkable, ranging from the reasonable to the ridiculous. At one end of that spectrum the view “is that the “lost tribes of Israel” were never really lost. Many of the Jews who remained in the land after the Assyrian conquest re-united with Judah in the south (2 Chronicles 34:6–9). Assyria was later conquered by Babylon, who went on to invade the Southern Kingdom of Israel, deporting the two remaining tribes: Judah and Benjamin (2 Kings 25:21). Remnants of the northern tribes would have thus been part of the Babylonian deportations. Seventy years later, when King Cyrus allowed the Israelites to return to Israel (Ezra 1), many (from all twelve tribes) returned to Israel to rebuild their homeland.” (a)
At the other end is the entertaining idea that the Lost Tribes inhabit the interior of a Hollow Earth, which is defended by flying saucers!(b)
Nearly as extreme is the attempt to link the Lost Tribes and Atlantis, a combination that would not normally leap to mind. However, some have attempted to justify such a linkage in spite of the contradictions between Plato’s story and the details of this minority opinion.
This alleged relationship between Atlantis and Israel points out that the Biblical patriarch Jacob who had twelve sons, excluded two of them, Levi and Simeon. Jacob is then presented as having been Poseidon with the ten remaining sons ruling Atlantis. One of Jacob’s sons, Gad, is assumed to have been Gadeiros, one of the ten sons of Poseidon. After that, no further parallels are offered to connect Jacob’s other sons with the remainder of Poseidon’s offspring.
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 was responsible for the burning of nearly all of the written documents of the Maya, leaving us only three complete books from before the Spanish invasion.<He is also considered to have produced a truly dreadful decipherment of the Maya script,>in no small way the result of his incorrect belief that the script was based on an alphabet. Shortly after his death his papers were lost and remained so until 1862 when some of them were found by Brasseur de Bourbourg in the archives at the Royal Academy of History in Madrid. Brasseur attempted to build on the translation work of de Landa but also failed. Nevertheless, he announced that the Maya had originally come to Yucatán from Atlantis.
A subsequent attempt by Augustus le Plongeon to decrypt the script was also unsuccessful, but it did not deter him from uniquely claiming that Atlantis had been a colony of the Maya. Regarding the script today (2021), over 90 per cent of the Maya texts can now be read with reasonable accuracy(a).<
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).
>For the record, Jack is quite sceptical of his great-grandfather’s theories and has republished some of the earlier material in order “for the reader to evaluate the basis of his argument,”<
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 continued to explore his great-grandfather’s misguided ideas with the publication of The Stone Tablets of Mu  in August 2018.
>In 2019, Jack published Crossing the Sands of Time: An Examination of the History and Legends of the Great Uighur Empire . We are told that “This book was motivated by the author’s interaction with Uyghur scholars and the marked difference between the real history and that espoused by his great-grandfather, James Churchward. During the research, other theories surfaced and are addressed as well. Included are appendices containing all the elder Churchward’s mentions of the Uighurs allowing the reader to judge for themselves the veracity of his pronouncements.”<
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).
‘Colonel’ James Churchward (1851-1936) was a British engineer and patent holder. However, his most famous invention was ‘the land of Mu‘, an imaginary counterpart of Atlantis, supposedly situated in the Pacific. He wrote six books between 1926 and 1935 to promote this brainchild. The last volume, Books of the Golden Age, was published as recently as 1997, based on material dating back to 1927.
Churchward claimed to have gained his knowledge of Mu from the so-called Naacal Tablets which were translated for him by an Indian priest. Jason Colavito has recently expanded on this matter in a recent blog(i).
Readers might be interested in reading a newspaper report from 1932 in which he claimed the existence of flying machines in ancient India(k). This idea was subsequently adopted by Pauwels & Bergier, copied by Von Däniken and more recently stolen by Hatcher Childress. Colavito has written a valuable piece(l) on the origin and evolution of the story of vimanas in ancient Indian literature and debunking the suggestion that they were some early UFO.
The kindest thing that I can say is that Churchward’s most valuable contribution to literature was A Big Game and Fishing Guide to Northeastern Maine, published in 1898. Two of the many gems offered by Churchward are (1) “Christ’s last words on the cross were in the language of Mu” and (2) “the sun is not a superheated body; it is a cool body but highly magnetic”(b) !!!
Fortunately, geological knowledge today clearly demonstrates that Churchward’s vast island of Mu is as impossible as Donnelly’s Atlantic Atlantis. However, although Churchward also accepted that Atlantis was a mid-Atlantic continent, I am tempted to think that he invented Mu in the Pacific in the hope of emulating Donnelly’s publishing success with Atlantis. A critical review(h) of Churchward’s theories, in French, is available on the Internet.
James Churchward’s younger brother, Albert (1852-1925)(right), was a Masonic writer, who was the author of The Origin and Evolution of the Human Race. It is interesting that this book, now available online(j), does not refer to either Mu or Atlantis.
An extensive paper written by his god-daughter, Joan Griffith, about his life and work is available online(a).
Churchward’s great-grandson, Jack, also has a website(d) dedicated to telling his story. This includes an acceptance(c) that the rank of ‘colonel’ used by his great-grandfather was, on balance, another invention. Jack also admitted(m) 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), de Bourbourg and LePlongeon.
Jack has written a couple of articles comparing the ideas of Churchward and LePlongeon(o).
(h) http://ukko.free.fr/mu.htm (French) *
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. In 1865, he discovered some of Bishop Diego de Landa‘s lost documents. He studied the thoroughly flawed interpretation of Mayan hieroglyphics by de Landa, produced in the 16th century and proceeded to develop his own faulty translation. While working on the Maya texts, he thought he had discovered the word Mu, which he claimed was the name of an inundated land with other features similar to Atlantis proposed that they were the same. He wrote copiously on this association, without any real evidence except his own deluded ideas.<
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, the 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 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.
In 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 a 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.