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Augustus Le Plongeon [1825-1908]


British Mayanist Augustus Le Plongeon (1826-1908)

British Mayanist Augustus Le Plongeon (1826-1908)

Alice Dixon Le Plongeon

While Augustus Le Plongeon might rightly be called more "infamous" than famous, his fabulous stereographs of Chichén Itzá almost make up for the trouble he caused. Le Plongeon's main claim to fame is the bogus translation of the the Troano Codex, in which he claimed that one section detailed the destruction of Mu, which he interpreted as Atlantis. Unfortunately this idea still lingers on the fringes of science; but, he surely did some nice photography.

Lawrence Desmond spent decades conducting historical research on Le Plongeon, and has collected a number of thoughtful essays on the contributions of Le Plongeon and his wife Alice Dixon to the progress of American archaeology and most specifically to the study of Maya civilization. Desmond believes that Le Plongeon's insistence that the Maya civilization were the center of all world civilization, combined with political problems within archaeology, were what really did the old fellow in.


A bibliography of all of Desmond's work, including his materials on Le Plongeon, is available online. Many of his works are available on that page.

A fascinating look at the early history of Mayan archaeology is Tripp Evans' Romancing the Maya, and it is a major source for this definition.

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