The Lost Library of the Maya Itza by Daryl Friesen

by Daryl Friesen

The first time I ever met James Mills was at the Dallas airport. I was on my way back to Roatan, Honduras to hopefully locate a pirate treasure, which I believed to be buried on the island. Little did I know at the time that the story I was about to hear, if true, could lead to one of the greatest discoveries in all of Mayan archaeology. Mills and I left the airport and got into his car. We headed off to some small Texas restaurant to discuss his project. He seemed very secretive about it the whole time. He chain smoked cigarettes as he drove down the highway, and started telling me how he first got involved with this project four years ago.

He had taken a trip to the south of Belize to do some exploring for Mayan ruins, deep in the jungles behind a Mayan city called Lubantan. The city's fame comes from the discovery of the crystal skull by explorer Mitchell Hedges. Mills said that he started to hack his way through the jungle for several miles before becoming exhausted. He never found anything and decided to quit for the day. As he began to walk back out of the jungle towards Lubantun, he came to a remote Mayan settlement. The Mayas there were very friendly and invited him to stay the night. That evening, he sat around and discussed Maya history with one of the men from the village. The man told him that he knew why he was here and that it was unnecessary for him to suffer so much hiking through the jungle when he had what he was after in his hut.

Of course Mills was intrigued and the man came out bearing a large box of Mayan artifacts which he collected over the years. Mills gave them all a good inspection, but most of it was very typical stuff: old Mayan whistles and broken pieces of pottery with small illegible paintings on them. Mills went to sleep in his hammock not sure of what to do next when he noticed that there was a blue florescent glow coming from the inside of the box of artifacts. He immediately went to the box and found something underneath all the artifacts was in fact glowing. He reached in and found himself touching a large stone. He couldn't believe what he had in his hands, an ancient carved piece of glowing stone.

In the morning, he asked his Mayan friend how much for the stone and was told $50US. Mills bought it and went on his way. He then told me how he got the stone out of the country. Mills had some friends in Honduras who helped him smuggle it to Honduras and then had it flown out of the country in a US Military cargo plane. I asked him if I could see the stone and he said yes. We pulled over to a restaurant and he opened up the trunk of his car. There it was, the stone, I could not believe my eyes! After Mills had returned to the States, he had the tablet translated. He could not disclose to me the person who translated it for him, but he could tell me what they said. This is where the story gets really interesting!

Apparently, the tablet is some kind of ancient Mayan map. Several of the ancient well known Maya ruins are located on it such as Tikal in Guatemala, Carcoel in Belize, as well as several smaller sites such as Lubantuun and Xunatinich. There was one large unknown site marked in the area southwest of Belize, deep in the Mayan Mountains behind Lubantun. He explained that according to recent archaeological maps of Southern Belize, modern archaeologists do not know of any major Mayan ruins in that area. After learning that his discovery may show the location of an unknown Mayan ruin, Mills decided to return to Central America to do more research. He headed to the archives in Guatemala City. It was there where he would find a piece of information that would bring his quest to a much higher level.

Several days after beginning his research in the Guatemala City, he stumbled across several documents relating to the fall of the Mayan City of Tayasal, which is now the city of Flores; Guatemala built on top of its ruins. Tayasal was the last city to fall into the hands of the Spanish during the Conquest. According to the documents, the Spanish had captured a Mayan priest and were demanding that he tell them the location of a shipment of Mayan codices that was sent. They were to be shipped from the city and hidden from the Spanish. The ancient Mayan were meticulous record keepers. Many of their ruins where used to observe the stars and were filled with volumes of books that contained astronomical knowledge that they learned. These books in Mayan lore are called codices. When the Spanish priests first saw the codices, they were thought to be the work of the devil and ordered all the books burned. The famous priest De Landa was one of them. Thousands of volumes were lost to the flames, but it is believed there are three ancient codices left in the modern world.

As Mills continued his search through the documents, he came across one, which said that the only place the Maya could have shipped the codices to be hidden, was in the jungles of southern Belize. It was the only place at the time not fully occupied by the Spanish. He then wondered if his unknown ruin in the jungles of southern Belize could be the possible location of a hidden library. The documents also stated that the Mayans would have left behind some kind of marker for future generations to find the library. Could the mysterious stone be that marker? There was only one way to find out and Mills decided it was time for a second expedition into the jungles of southern Belize.

Mills explained to me the feeling he received from finding this information. It sent him into waves of ecstasy as he left the archives for the chaotic streets of Guatemala City. As he was walked down the street, a strange man appeared in front of him and started cursing him in Spanish. Throwing him off guard, a car approached and pulled up beside him. Before he could start to comprehend what was happening, out of nowhere he was bashed on the head from behind which knocked him out cold. When he awoke he found himself lying on the floor of an old warehouse with his captors sitting across from him smoking cigarettes. One of them immediately walked up to him and placed a kick in his ribs sending him back onto the floor. They yelled at him in Spanish demanding to know what he was doing in Guatemala City and what he knew about the ruins in Belize.

It was like something out of a bad movie, he explained. When he would not tell them anything, they strung him up by the feet in the warehouse and burned him with the butts of their cigarettes, but he still would not talk. He showed me the marks on his arms and stomach as he explained this part of the story to me. A few days later, they let him go by dropping him off in some impoverished scary part of Guatemala City where he wandered in a daze going without food for several days. He finally found a taxi, which took him back to the friendlier parts of the city. He couldn't make any sense of what happened and who was it that had kidnapped him. Was it the government? Was it random looters hoping to get their hands on an undiscovered Mayan ruin so they could loot it? All there was left to do now was to take an expedition to the area and see if he could find the lost library of the Maya Itza. To be continued.

The Following is from a the unpublished until now manuscript by J Coppage ( aka James Mills in the story above) Guatemala Looters Sought Treasure Map

As the Guatemalan government crumbled around him last weekend, amateur Maya researcher James *******of Dallas went out for a bottle of scotch-and disappeared. For 28 hours, he was bound and tortured. On a hotel mirror, his fiancee, , found a lipstick note straight out of a dime novel: "No policia. Map for gringo."

Back safely in their North Dallas apartment that doubles as an office for their Institute of Mayan Antiquities, the couple say they think Mr. was kidnapped by looters who overheard them talk about a breakthrough they'd just made in their search for a lost Mayan library.

But the worst part of the ordeal, they say, has been the apathetic reaction of the FBI, CIA and Dallas police-even though American embassy officials who helped them flee Guatemala after Mr. ******* escaped told them that local police would handle the case..

"The turmoil of getting kidnapped and tortured is one thing," said Mr. ******** , smoking amid a sprawl of Latin America maps and books on the ancient Maya. "The trauma of getting back here and finding out that it's no big deal to anyone scares the living daylights out of me." One U.S. diplomat who saw Mr. *******injuries and asked not to be identified said: "Something definitely happened. Sometimes tourists get pulled into a car and taken somewhere and robbed ... The part about the torture, that's unusual."

Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats describe the political situation in Guatemala as "very volatile." On Friday, the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of ousted president Jorge Serrano, who 10 days earlier-the day Mr. ***** and Ms. ******* arrived in Guatemala City --- had tried to claim near-dictatorial powers.

NO TRAVEL ADVISORIES Mr. ******* and Ms. ********said they checked for an official warning on Guatemala. The State Department issued one after they were airborne. The 47-year-old industrial engineer admits to a longtime obsession with the Maya. He says he is no Indiana Jones, although his theories about the cache of priceless Mayan books draw on clues from 300-year-old letters and a mysterious stone tablet.

He and Ms. *********, 35, who recently quit a public relations job with Hormel Meats in Wisconsin, "met" by computer bulletin board in October. That same month, along with an eclectic group of fellow Maya buffs-including graduate students and an American Eagle pilot-Mr.formed the nonprofit institute in hopes of winning grants to support his research. A day before the kidnapping, Mr. ****** and Ms. ********say they found a 1698 letter in the National Archives in Guatemala City. In it, a Franciscan friar says he has been housing King CanEk, leader of the last Itza Maya city to fall to the conquistadors. The letter seems to contradict historical accounts that CanEk was captured the previous year-leading Mr. to suspect that the king escaped, possibly with gold and books.

The following book is the complete manuscript by John Coppage (aka James Mills) since he has passed away its availble for the first time. The name James Mills was used as requested by John Coppage while he was alive.
Purchase The Lost Library of the Mayan Itza by J Coppage

An email from Mills before I met him in Dallas, Texas

Hi Daryl, First, The BBS, We had it "up and online" for almost four years. It isdown now for two reasons. One, Ron Whipple, was the sysop, and his flying duties with AA have been tremendous, two, I needed the computer that it was running on and three, We are planning a Website this Fall. (and, of course, with the Internet, Local BBS's, are really a thing of the past).

Question? Any chance that on your way to Belize you could "layover" in Dallas for awhile? A few hours, a few days? We would love the chance to meet you, let you see the videos, pictures, and pots. Just a thought, but *******and I would love to meet you and you would be a welcome guest in our home. We "Explorers" are a dying breed and must stick together. .

As far as the Caves go.- One-Be VERY careful- Caves Kill. I know it's where the "good stuff" may be but also think about this, If guides are showing "known" caves it most likely means that important "finds" are either gone are are well hidden, and also, think about this-suppose you found something "important"-what would you do? Notify the authorities? We did, and that is when the nuts hit the fan. Also, consider the guides, when your gone, if the Government dosen't come in immediately the find will be looted, etc., etc. Having said that, I know the excitement of Caving-I love it, and yes, it is probably where significant finds will be made-so go for it, but be careful!

One more thing, Daryl, and I can't say this strongly enough, be careful poking around in Toledo right now. There was an "Operation" going on in the Southern Maya Mountains in the Spring of '95. There was a "Major" discovery made! It involved the US Government, The Belizean Government, and the National Geographic. It has not been made public yet. Some of the locals know of it-most do not-those who know have been scared into their next lives. We have independent proof of this-we also have the scars. This is not paranoia or bullnuts-the cover-up was well planned and is holding.

I have no doubt that you can go into Toledo on this trip and have a wonderful trip, visit your friends, etc. If you ask about ****** and I, I hope you will hear some good things- I also know that "our History was rewritten" after we left. We were teachers and explorers- we loved our kids and we loved the jungle. Our only regrets are that first we had to leave and two we can't return at this time. But we ARE going back-one way or the other. I don't think the Library has been found and it is in jeapordy.