Quest for the Lost Cities

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  • A photojournalist describes his personal retracing of exploration routes taken during the 19th century in this magazine article written as his exhibition, "Path to the Lost Cities: In the Footsteps of the Maya Explorers," was open to the public at the San Diego Museum of Man. The article outlines the successful explorations of John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood to search for lost cities of the Maya culture in Central America and Mexico from 1839 to 1842. Stephens kept journals and Catherwood did sketches of more than fifty Maya areas they located, including Copan and Chichen Itza. The author quotes some of those journal passages, then relates his own impressions concerning his treks to those identical sites, which he visited from 1990 until the end of 1995.
  • The author notes that the exhibition includes sketches, maps and paintings from the original expedition as well as his photographs of places sketched by Catherwood, and historic artifacts. Although not mentioned in the article, a few objects from the first journeys had been donated to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.


  • Catherwood, Frederick
  • Stephens, John Lloyd 1805-1852
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • Path to the Lost Cities: In the Footsteps of the Maya Explorers (1998 San Diego Museum of Man)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article contains 5 sets of Mayan ruin pictorial comparatives and 4 other figures.

Contained within

San Diego Magazine (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


November 1998


  • Photographers
  • Archaeology
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Exhibitions
  • Indians of Central America
  • Mayas


  • Central America
  • Mexico

Physical description

pgs. 84-91

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