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The Ancient Maya, 6th Edition 6th Edition

34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804748179
ISBN-10: 0804748179
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Editorial Reviews


"The Ancient Maya is the definitive statement for our current understanding of their time and place. It goes well beyond any other competing volume in its encompassing reach."—Journal of Anthropological Research

"(T)he most comprehensive and most lavishly illustrated book on its subject."—Journal of Latin American Studies

"The Ancient Maya has become a standard text on the study of Mayan culture and prehistory. Given the veritable explosion of research on the Maya, greater understanding of this past—yet living—culture has been realized."—Colonial Latin American Historical Review

"(T)his work is surely a must-have reference for Mayanists of all fields. . . . The Ancient Maya is appropriate to scholars, graduate students, and upper-level undergraduates."—The Americas

"This marvelous book shows why the Maya constitute one of the best "case studies" of social and political evolution. Rich with detail and new insights, the authors skillfully show that the Maya were on a par with other great civilizations such as the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese. This truly
monumental work has been updated to meet the needs of all readers -- from laymen to tourists to professional archaeologists -- and it should be on everyone's bookshelf to read and re-read."
—Joyce Marcus, University of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology
"The Ancient Maya remains the best and most comprehensive single source on the prehispanic Maya. Easy to read and up-to-date, this new edition is an excellent choice for the general reader and for college classes."
—E. Wyllys Andrews, Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University
"The Ancient Maya is indispensable to anyone interested in the Maya--or in complex societies in general--because of its authoritative voice and encyclopedic scope. It is entertainingly written so that one can sit down and read through its chapters, while at the same time its tables,
figures, and superb index and bibliography make it a dependable and essential reference tool. There simply isn't anything comparable to this book."
—Prudence M. Rice, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
"For nearly 60 years, sucessive editions of The Ancient Maya have served as benchmarks of our knowledge of Maya civilization. This new edition follows in the footsteps of its illustrious predecessors, presenting the most thorough and up-to-date synthesis of our knowledge of the Maya
civilization as revealed through archaeology, epigraphy, and art history. Scholars and the general public alike will be excited to find the latest archaeological discoveries and theories about topics like the rise of Maya civilization and the Classic Maya collapse. Thanks to significant reorganization, the text addresses the history of Maya archaeology and epigraphy, thus contextualizing the study of the ancient Maya within the larger field of archaeology. In short, this book remains the definitive synthesis of our knowledge of Precolumbian Maya
—Jason Yaeger, University of Wisconsin-Madison

From the Inside Flap

This book traces the evolution of Maya civilization through the Pre-Columbian era, a span of some 2,500 years from the origins of complex society within Mesoamerica to the end of the Pre-Columbian world with the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century. The sixth edition presents new archaeological evidence and historical studies and offers the most extensive revisions of this classic work to date. The result is the most thorough and incisive study of the origins and development of ancient Maya civilization ever published.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 931 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 6 edition (October 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804748179
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804748179
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Magaly Wilson on May 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book has had many re-printings, and for good reason. It is THE english language book that covers the anicient Maya in one volume. This book was used as a text in a class I took in Mesoamerican archaeology. I found it easy to read and very interesting. Great for a travel companion. I used it extensively while traveling through Yucatán and Chiapas.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Tomas Mendizabal on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
Wow. This is the definitive book on the Maya. Whether youre a student or a scholar, its got almost everything. Very readable prose, good organization, and excellent photographs. In fact, they are almost the best part. The organization is excellent providing first an overview, chapter by chapter of major events in Maya history, and then a dissection of every major aspect of Maya life. If the Maya are your thing, dont miss this book. Great value for money.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Boetius on July 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had only a limited interest in the Maya until I got this book, and now a new world of understanding has opened up. Sharer provides a text that is at once detailed and professional, but also accessible and well-written without the dull, dull, report-style of most serious works on the subject. I have spent literally weeks perusing the book, and I seem to always find something new and interesting. Also worthy of mention are the abundant illustrations and photos. Finally, Sharer is to be commended for his intellectual honesty and objectivity - without fail he reviews the merits of the most important interpretations about a historical issue before making a non-binding judgment of his own. This is one to have in your personal library. Very well done indeed!
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on November 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is by far the most comprehensive book about the ancient Maya. There are several excellent shorter ones; this is the go-to book for thorough reference. It has become almost as "classic" as Maya civilization. Sharer reminisces about being "hooked on" Maya studies by the third edition (by Morley and Brainerd, 1956); so was I, back when it was newly minted. How much has changed since. Scholars can now read Maya. We now can match written history, sculptured portrayals, and archaeological findings to identify the actual skeletons of some of the greatest and most famous Maya kings, such as Yax K'uk' Mo' of Palenque. We have entire dynastic lists covering centuries, for many of the major cities. We can use bone chemistry to find out what the Maya ate. All of this was almost beyond the wildest dreams of the 1950s.
The Maya turn out to have been as brilliant, original and creative as anyone ever thought, a truly homemade civilization, one of the few in a tropical forest environment. They are said to have "collapsed" due to ecological maladjustment, but this book notes that modern research shows the civilization lasted well over 1,000 years before the "collapse" around 900 AD, and it was a fairly local phenomenon. This local collapse was due to drought, warfare, and some ecological overshoot--too many people doing too much (including burning too many trees to make lime for stucco and cement). The Maya kept on. They took on the Spanish and often won. The last independent state held out till 1697, and Maya continued holding out in remote backlands; in 1846 the Mexican Maya rebelled again, and created an independent state, finally reconquered after 1900 and turned into the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Goossens on August 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a complete, comprehensive guide to anyone wanting to know more about this amazing pre-columbian culture. The author descirbes many important aspects of ancient maya culture including architecture, environment, art, cosmology, calendar systems, natural geography and geology, and subsistence. Wording may be a little difficult for some readers, but well worth it. The Ancient Maya is several books in one and I recommend it to anyone looking to enhance there views of this culture.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 1996
Format: Paperback
To my knowledge, this book is the best overview of the current state information of the ancient Maya available today. If you want a book that covers practically everything to a reasonable level of depth, this is it
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By doc peterson VINE VOICE on December 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While making a joke about (or reference to) the Mayan calendar is tempting, I'm just not clever enough -or perhaps I'm too earnest - to pull it off. Interested in pre-Columbian history, I stumbled across Sharer's _The Ancient Maya_. It was more - much more - than I had expected, which in and of itself isn't a bad thing, but it is something readers should be aware of. The book is near encyclopedic in its detail and the depth into which Sharer explores the Maya. While I was initially intimidated by the scope and level of specificity, there is so much here that even those looking for a brief synopsis of the Maya can (with a little attention to the index) have all their questions about this vibrant and tremendously important civilization answered.

The book is primarily an anthropological and archaeological study as the maps, photos, illustrations and figurative drawings of burial sites, buildings, communities and temples attest, and as explained in the opening chapters. This should not dissuade historians (such as myself) or others interested in this civilization (but not necessarily students of this discipline) from reading this marvelous book - the use of technical jargon is kept at a minimum, but the first three chapters (the first 100 or so pages) are devoted to a discussion of archeology in Mesoamerica. Sharer hits his historical stride about a third of the way into the book, elaborating, illustrating and discussing a very complex and long-lasting civilization.

Admittedly, the detail can be a bit overwhelming. Sharer includes dozens of "case studies" of various digs in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Guatamala and El Salvador providing a close-up view of current research on several aspects of Mayan civilization from 1000 BCE - 800 CE.
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