The author, a Mayan scholar, argues the existence of a pre-Mayan culture -- that of the Olmecs. The evidence is fast disappearing into the hands of tourists to Acapulco, where pesos count more than antiquity. In a straight-forward style, well translated from the German, the author recounts Central American archeological digs where the adventure was supplied by machete-wielding local vandals and gringo avarice. A true temple digger's concern with the origins of history comes across. The human side of Carbon 14 and dried up museum exegeses.