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The Fundamental Principles of Old and New World Civilizations   By:

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The Fundamental Principles


Old and New World Civilizations

A Comparative Research Based on a Study of the Ancient Mexican Religious, Sociological, and Calendrical Systems.


Zelia Nuttall

Honorary Special Assistant of the Peabody Museum; Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Member of the Philosophical Society, Philadelphia; Honorary Member of the Archaeological Association, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Corresponding Member of the Antiquarian and Numismatic Society of Philadelphia; of the Anthropological Society of Washington; of the Societá Italiana d'Antropologia; of the Société de Géographie de Genève; of the Sociedad Cientifico "Antonio Alzate," Mexico; and of the Société des Américanistes de Paris.

Archaeological and Ethnological Papers

Of The

Peabody Museum

Harvard University

Vol. II.

Cambridge, Mass.

Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology.

March, 1901.


Editorial Note. Author's Preface. The Fundamental Principles Of Old And New World Civilizations. Appendix I. Comparative Table of some Quechua, Nahuatl and Maya Words. Appendix II. A Prayer meeting of the Star worshippers. Appendix III. Comparative Lists of Words. Index. Note. Footnotes


The author of this volume explains in her preface how she came to be led beyond her special field of research into a comparative study of the early civilizations of the Old World; and how she traced the origin of the swastika, in Mexico, to an astronomical source and, in all countries alike, found its use as a sacred symbol accompanied by evidences of a certain phase of culture based on pole star worship, and the recognition of the fixed laws of nature, which found expression in the ideal of celestial kingdoms or states organized on a set numerical plan and regulated by the apparent revolutions of circumpolar constellations.

The results of the author's researches seem to justify her summary of conclusions; but she distinctly states that she does not wish to propound any theory. She invites further study and discussion by Orientalists and Americanists before drawing final conclusions from the facts she has gathered. The publication of this paper will open anew the consideration of pre Columbian visits to the New World, shown, as many have believed, by identities too many and too close to be considered as mere resemblances or as the natural results of independent intellectual development.

The illustrations are nearly all from drawings by the author. The analytical Index has been prepared by Miss Mead. It will be seen, by the numbering at the bottom of each page, that it was at first intended to include this paper in Volume I of the Archaeological and Ethnological Papers of the Museum; but the addition of the text relating to the Old World made too bulky a volume, and it is therefore issued as Volume II of the series.

To Mrs. Nuttall for the gift of her work, the results of years of research, and to the several generous friends who have provided the means for publishing this volume, the editor expresses his gratitude in behalf of the Museum.

F. W. PUTNAM, Curator of the Peabody Museum. Harvard University, March 1, 1901.


In February, 1898, while engaged upon the translation and commentary of the anonymous Hispano Mexican MS. of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Library, of Florence, my interest was suddenly and unexpectedly diverted from my self imposed task by the circumstances described in the opening pages of the present publication.

Laying my work aside, as I then supposed, for a few days only, I seized the new thread of investigation with a keen and enthusiastic interest, little knowing that it, in turn, was not only to hold me fast for nearly three years, but was to lead me out of my original field of research, into distant, and to me, hitherto untrodden realms, in close pursuit of facts relating to the oldest forms of religion, social organization, and symbolism... Continue reading book >>

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