Sails in Aboriginal Mesoamerica: Reevaluating Thompson's Argument
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This study reviews the archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence for aboriginal sail in the Maya area. Most of the paper concentrates on Thompson's (1951) argument, which relied on eyewitness reports of sails as well as on the appearance of words for sail in the Motul Dictionary. Thompson's evidence is found to be either equivocal or based on mistranslation of the original Spanish. Furthermore, his linguistic argument fails to support his case. There is no reason to believe that sails were used in any part of Mesoamerica at the time of the Conquest or earlier.