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Mesoamerican Writing Systems: Propaganda, Myth, and History in Four Ancient Civilizations First Edition Edition

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0691094748
ISBN-10: 0691094748
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Editorial Reviews


"With her many years on the Maya and Zapotec as an ethnohistorian and archaeologist, Marcus is perhaps uniquely qualified to present a detailed comparative and synthetic treatment of all of these writing systems.... Marcus's own clear writing, the exhaustive comparative treatment, and the many illustrations will be greatly appreciated by Mesoamerican specialists desirous of owning a single authoritative reference on the different writing systems."--Ethnohistory


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 517 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (January 11, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691094748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691094748
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 10.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,663,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mike O'Brien on April 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Marcus's volume is the most comprehensive book on the market in the field of Mesoamerican epigraphy, the study of ancient writing systems among four high cultures that arose in what was later to become Mexico and Guatemala: the Aztec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Maya. Marcus is recognized as one of the preeminent scholars of these early writing systems, with a pedigree that includes having studied with perhaps the greatest of the Mesoamerican epigraphers, Tatiana Proskouriakoff. Marcus also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, which indicates the esteem with which she is held by her peers. Thus she is more than capable of pushing the field of Mesoamerican epigraphy forward, and the present volume demonstrates adequately that she has done so. Unlike some modern epigraphers, Marcus casts a wary eye on the literal nature of the hieroglyphic notations contained in the various texts, a caution reflected in the subtitle of the book. In short, she views Mesoamerican writing systems as part propaganda, part myth, and part history; thus, as she states, it was both a tool and a by-product of competition for prestige and leadership positions.
The volume includes 12 chapters that integrate various topics such as the nature of Mesoamerican calendars, royal marriages, place names, and ancestors-a much better format than arranging the book strictly by cultural group. The greatest strength of the book lies in clarity of presentation and the inclusion of several hundred line drawings of examples of glyphs. The drawings make it easy to follow Marcus's discussion of things such as the various Mesoamerican calendars in use throughout Mesoamerica.
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