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Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya Hardcover – December 31, 2000

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


There's nothing else like this book. It supersedes everything else ever written on Maya history. -- Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code

About the Author

Simon Martin is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Nikolai Grube is Professor of Anthropology and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Bonn.

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Product Details

  • Series: Chronicle
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson; 1St Edition edition (December 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500051038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500051030
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By JEB CARD on June 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Until I finally started using this book (I've had my copy since December, but haven't been able to return to studying Maya History until now), I would have recommended Schele and Friedel's _Forest of Kings_ (1990) as the best synthesis of Maya History. Though _Forest_ is out of date, it did a remarkable job at establishing a general idea of what Classic Maya history was all about (I'm not sure I want to use the word paradigm here). But with _Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens_, Martin and Grube have achieved two great things.
First, they have finally provided a good public accounting of their work on the Calakmul alliance. The piecing together of Calakmul's history and political structure from the rest of the Maya lowlands is truly an important key to understanding Maya political evolution.
Second, they have produced a first rate synthesis of Classic Maya history, at a time when some of the pieces are really falling into place. This is an evident strength of the book. While the chapters on the Late Classic city-states (Yaxchilan, Copan, etc.) are informative, up-to-date, and useful, they primarily fill out a picture of squabbling city states that has been understood for some time.
But it is in the first half of the book, dealing primarily with the conquests of Tikal/Teotihuacan (a connection only now being revealed with any sense of understanding) and the rival alliance built by the city of Calakmul during the 4th-7th centuries AD, that this book truly shines.
The systematic presentation of information on the rulers (especially the listing of names used previously by other Maya historians and archaeologists) will be of incredible utility to anyone trying to understand Maya history.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Ogara on July 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The amount of information that has accumulated about the Maya in the last ten years is extraordinary. I find it amazing to go to public libraries, even good ones like the state library here in Tallahassee, Florida, only to find that most of the books on the Maya date from the 1970's or earlier, and virtually everything they have to say about the historical context of Maya civilization is woefully out of date.
If you're out of date about the latest developments in Maya historiography, or if you're just developing an interest in the subject, you'll find this book to be of value. It gives the history of the major classic era cities (the book is completely about the classic period, and only digresses outside of that era to add supporting information), and does it in a format that is attractive and interesting. Indeed, many of the illustrations are of pieces that have only recently been unearthed, and this increases the interest of the book.
The one drawback is that the book is a little too advanced for the beginner - it can be difficult to work out the historical signposts - and a little too basic for the student already familiar with most recent work. A little more data about the overall context of the period and culture would be of some value. Aside from this one objection, it is an admirable work, well-written enough to capture the interest of the intelligent general reader while not giving the feeling that the authors are talking down to a non-specialist level. Definitely worth the read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By tertius3 on January 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Highly recommended as a short, accessible, and not too technical introduction to Maya political history during the Classic Period (first millenium A.D.). Simon Martin is a brilliant young English art scholar and Nikolai Grube an outstanding epigrapher from Bonn. They collaborated to propose a new theory of grand shifting alliances among ancient Maya city states that roiled the Yucatan Peninsula 1500 years ago. This Chronicle (one in a Thames & Hudson series) includes that and more: it is an event-based chronicle of all the best known rulers of the ancient Maya world as currently inferred from their own pictorial hieroglyphics. It is a wonderful supplement for people interested in the Maya, with an exciting new history to outline.
There IS a chronological narrative running through it, but really this is a book to be studied. Only the 11 most powerful (or well-documented) Maya city states are presented in full. After a brief introduction to Maya history, five chapters trace the glyph-based histories of the most important cities (including Tikal and Calakmul). Then six chapters cover as many peripheral cities with full records (like Palenque and Copan), concluding with the fall of the kings. The text is festooned with innumerable photographs, line drawings of hieroglyphs and royalty, explanatory captions, kings' names, biographical tables, sidebars on archaeological topics, views of buildings, and shaded city plans. Helping you keep track of the impossible (and often similar) names are king headers and timeline footers. A useful bibliography and name (not topic) index complete the book
This book is not intended as a guide to famous ruins nor does it deal with the popular subject of Maya religion and cosmos.
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