Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John Lloyd Stephens
John Lloyd Stephens (November 28, 1805–October 13, 1852) was a American explorer, writer, and diplomat. Stephens was a pivotal figure in the rediscovery of Maya civilization and in the planning of the Panama railroad.
Stephens wrote several popular books about his travels and explorations:
- Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea, and the Holy Land (1837)
- Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia and Poland (1838)
- Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, Vols. 1 & 2 (1841)
- Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Vols. 1 & 2 (1843)
In 1839, President Martin Van Buren commissioned Stephens as Special Ambassador to Central America. While there, the government of the United States of Central America fell apart in civil war. "Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan" gives a vivid description of some of those events which Stephens witnessed. Of even greater importance, it provided descriptions of several ancient Maya sites, along with illustrations by Stephen's traveling companion, architect and draftsman Frederick Catherwood. These were greatly superior in both amount and accuracy of depection to the small amount of information on ancient Mesoamerica previously published. Stephens continued his investigations of Maya ruins with a return trip to Yucatan which produced a further book.
Stephens is the subject of a biography Maya Explorer by Victor Wolfgang Von Hagan, first published in 1947.
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