1/ On Twitter, I have often shared insights and quotes from my late grandfather, Sir Fred Catherwood.
However, the story of another relative of mine also named Frederick Catherwood is perhaps even more fascinating. pic.twitter.com/yTr8DlKe6f
2/ Today, most of us are familiar with the ancient Maya civilization.
Particularly after the conspiracy theory in 2012 that claimed the Mayan calendar had predicted the end of the world. pic.twitter.com/YFflUDGftd
3/ However, the Western world has only truly known about the ancient Maya since the mid-19th century.
In the 1840s, Frederick Catherwood and John Lloyd-Stephens were “credited with the rediscovery of the Maya civilization”. pic.twitter.com/kUHTutAFea
4/ Upon hearing rumors of strange ruins in the unmapped wilderness of Central America, Catherwood and Stephens organized an expedition to study the region further. pic.twitter.com/0YAdhxkE9F
5/ Similar to the story depicted in “The Lost City of Z”, Catherwood and Stephens faced serious disease, tribal warfare, and treacherous terrain.
6/ Despite these obstacles, Catherwood and Stephens persevered.
“At Palenque, Catherwood contracted malaria but continued to work in spite of his illness. Stephens describes him as refusing to rest and continuing to draw wearing gloves and netting to keep the mosquitoes away.” pic.twitter.com/CNrRn4BqU5
7/ Eventually, Catherwood and Stephens located the ancient ruins in Yucatán and Copán.
According to author William Carlsen:
“What they found would upend the West’s understanding of human history.” pic.twitter.com/uX17T7r7Z3
8/ At each site they visited, Catherwood meticulously illustrated the ruins that the pair had discovered.
Far from just serving as a beautiful piece of art, Catherwood’s detailed work allowed experts back in London to study and translate the ancient Mayan text. pic.twitter.com/nI5jQMOMkc
9/ After their year long expedition, Catherwood and Stephens eventually left Central America.
Upon their return, the pair set to work writing about the results of their adventures in a book titled “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan”, which was published in 1843. pic.twitter.com/wDJgzPNaud
10/ Edgar Allen Poe stated that their work was “perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published”.
The book became a best seller, and introduced the ancient Maya civilization to the Western world. pic.twitter.com/RtF9ny3sji