Moreover, Waldeck was insistent that the Maya knew the elephant because he found fossilized bones near Maya sites in an age when the chronology of the New World was still uncertain. He saw elephants everywhere, especially in stylized Maya faces with long noses in the glyphs of Palenque and in depictions of the god Chac, with his elongated nose. That none of these “elephants” featured tusks of other pachyderm identifiers was no trouble; he simply altered the drawings to fit his imaginary elephants more closely. This conformed well with the then-popular notion (born of the study of Indo-European languages) that Sanskrit, being older than either Greek or Latin, must represent the oldest human civilization. (Later studies would show that Indo-European languages branched from a common source, so Sanskrit was not the parent of Latin.) While Waldeck himself favored Egypt as the source for Maya civilization, others claimed that the Mexicans must have learned civilization from the Hindus of India, who brought their elephants with them.
Information from this post was drawn from Ian Graham, Alfred Maudslay and the Maya: A Biography (2002) and R. Tripp Evans, Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination, 1820-1915 (2004).