The dictum of Clark Wissler that ‘New World culture is [thus] a kind of pyramid whose base is as broad as the two Americas and whose apex rests over Middle America’ is one of those brilliant generalizations which at once sum up the conclusions already reached, and point the way to further progress.
From the vantage of today one may agree with A. V. Kidder (22, p. 145) that American archaeologists have been unduly neglectful of the broad base of their pyramid. Yet itwould be churlish to blame them when the apex was so enticing, so rich, so bizarre and above all so enigmatic. Indeed, when men first descried the peaks of Maya, Mexican and Peruvian achievement, it seemed hard to connect them with the lowly foot- hills of cultural attainment familiar in the temperate latitudes of the western hemisphere. Until the underlying unity of civilization in the New World was recognized, its pyramidal structure could hardly be appreciated; in default of this it is easy to understand how archaeologists tended to neglect cultures, which, however interesting they may appear to us from the historical angle, must have appeared to them as intrinsically poor and dull. Then again it was only on the edges of the pyramid that the foundation layer was visible; elsewhere it was buried under a superstructure, massive in proportion to its attractiveness.