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sense of wonder

The American explorer John Lloyd Stephens, coming across the lost Maya city of Copán in 1839, describes his first response:

'We sat down on the very edge of the wall, and strove in vain to penetrate the mystery by which we were surrounded. Who were the people that built this city? In the ruined cities of Egypt, even in the long-lost Petra, the stranger knows the story of the people whose vestiges he finds around him. America, say historians, was peopled by savages: but savages never reared these structures, savages never carved these stones. We asked the Indians who made them, and their dull answer was Quién sabe? (Who knows?).

Quoted Ferdinand Anton Art of the Maya, Thames and Hudson 1970, pages 7-8

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