This is one of the great books of archaeological discovery, and at the same time one of the few really absorbing books of travel. Before Stephens' expedition to Yucatan in 1841, little was known of that country; the Maya Indian culture, for example, had not been discovered. Stephens found, and described in this work, forty-four Maya sites; his account of these remains is, after more than a century, still the most authoritative in existence. Important as it is to the world of science, this work is nonetheless a great classic of travel and exploration. Stephens' descriptions of Yucatecan folkways, manners, dress, amusements, ceremonies, etc., are extremely articulate, and the frequent humorous passages are told with all the adroitness of a Mark Twain. Whether he is depicting a feast-day in Merida, the ferocity of a bullfight, the rude pathos of an Indian burial, or his own attempts to start a photography business among the natives, Stephens' prose remains consistently penetrating and alive. Catherwood's illustrations virtually double the overall appeal of the book. These are highly exact and realistic drawings showing ancient ruins, interior and exterior views of Maya tombs, hieroglyphics and drawings found on the walls of Maya temples, outdoor scenes depicting a Maya graveyard or a simple fishing village. All of Catherwood's original sketches have been made into engravings and are reproduced in this edition. Archaeologists, anthropologists, folklorists, and readers interested in Central American life, will find this a highly rewarding work.