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FW: Book Review - Maya Civilization / Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Danny Yee [mailto:danny@ANATOMY.USYD.EDU.AU] Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 9:48 AM To: ANTHRO-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Subject: Book Review - Maya
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 17, 2000
      FW: Book Review - Maya Civilization / Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Danny Yee [mailto:danny@...]
      Sent: Saturday, June 17, 2000 9:48 AM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: Book Review - Maya Civilization / Lost Chronicles of the Maya

      An HTML version of this book review can be found at
      along with more than five hundred other reviews.

       TITLE: Maya Civilization
       EDITORS: Peter Schmidt + Mercedes de la Garza + Enrique Nalda
       PUBLISHER: Thames and Hudson 1998
       OTHER: 695 pages, large format, colour photographs, references, index

       TITLE: The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings
       AUTHOR: David Drew
       PUBLISHER: University of California Press 1999
       SUBJECTS: history, archaeology, Central America
       OTHER: 450 pages, colour photographs, bibliography, index

      Most will be drawn to _Maya Civilization_ primarily by its glorious
      colour photographs.  These cover a huge range of artifacts, buildings,
      and sites and take up more than two thirds of the space: not only are many
      full page (A4) or double page, but there are even some four page fold-out
      panoramas!  But while it could be appreciated as a simple coffee-table
      book, it also has some serious text: thirty papers on different aspects
      of Maya civilisation.  These are a broad range of survey papers (with
      bibliographies), extending to such specialised topics such as "Navigation
      and Trade on the Eastern Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula" and "Vegetation
      of the Maya Region".  Also included (and taking up the last quarter of the
      volume) is the catalog for an exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.
      While _Maya Civilization_ will be an invaluable reference for students
      of the Maya, it is not a good general introduction for the newcomer to
      the subject.

      _The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings_ fills the role of general
      introduction perfectly: despite the title it is not at all sensational,
      or restricted to kings and chronicles.  Drew begins with a chapter
      on the early exploration and archaeological discoveries, with Spanish
      sources such as Landa, nineteenth century explorers such as Stephens
      and Catherwood, and twentieth century scientists such as Thompson.
      He continues this in chapter three with an account of more recent progress
      in Maya studies, most notably the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphics
      and the historical riches it has revealed.

      Chapter two describes the pre-Classic Maya region, from the earliest human
      settlement, through the influence of the Olmec and of Teotihuacan, to the
      rise of cities such as Nakbe and El Mirador.  And chapters four and five
      cover the Classic period, recounting stories of leaders and wars, of the
      founding and failure of dynasties, that give Maya history that personal
      element we are accustomed to in (say) Mediterranean history.  A separate
      chapter looks at Classic Maya religion, astronomy, and mythology -- and
      life away from the monuments and records of rulers.  _Lost Chronicles_
      then continues with an account of the combined environmental and social
      collapse which ended the Classic period around 900 AD, and a look at
      the rise of new cities in northern Yucatan and suggestions of a change
      to more distributed power structures.  The final chapter traces the
      history of the Maya from the Spanish conquest, through the "last city"
      of Tayasal and the Caste War, down to the present.

      _Lost Chronicles_ has a nice collection of colour photographs, though
      it doesn't come close to _Maya Civilization_ in that area.  One area in
      which it does better is in the editing: _Lost Chronicles_ is up to the
      University of California Press' usual standards, whereas some of the
      papers in _Maya Civilization_ have not been proofed at all, even though
      English is not the first language of the authors (it is particularly
      unfortunate that the very first paper is the worst in this regard).
      It is puzzling that anyone can publish a volume like this, on whose
      illustrations so much care has obviously been expended, without being
      willing to pay a starving graduate student to proofread it.


      %T      Maya Civilization
      %E      Schmidt, Peter
      %E      Garza, Mercedes de la
      %E      Nalda, Enrique
      %I      Thames and Hudson
      %C      London
      %D      1998
      %O      hardcover, colour photographs, references, glossary, index
      %G      ISBN 0-500-01889-8
      %P      695pp
      %K      archaeology, history, Central America

      %T      The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings
      %A      Drew, David
      %I      University of California Press
      %C      Berkeley
      %D      1999
      %O      hardcover, bibliography, index
      %G      ISBN 0-520-22612-7
      %P      xiii,450pp
      %U      http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9197.html
      %K      history, archaeology

      17 June 2000

              Copyright (c) 2000 Danny Yee <editor@...>
              Danny Yee's Book Reviews      http://dannyreviews.com/

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