- 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: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 38 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #451,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"(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)
"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
"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 trulymonumental 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 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)
"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 Mayacivilization 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 Mayacivilization."―Jason Yaeger, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"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)
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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. While illustrative of the specific time periods (and regions), they can be distracting. I felt this feature was commendable. Likewise I was impressed with Sharer's transparency in discussing areas of academic disagreement. For example, while covering the end of Maya states in the Classic Period (800 - 900 CE), several explanations have been advanced. Rather than dismissing those with which Sharer disagrees, each theory is presented, a summary of the supporting evidence is discussed, and a brief analysis of the relative merits and flaws of the interpretation of the data is discsused. Not only is this good scholarship, its good teaching and is academically honest. I commend him.
I was most fascinated by the concluding chapters of the book, in which Mayan society and religion is discussed, and the final chapter that related the Spanish conquest of Mayan civilization. While much of Mayan art, writing and architecture was concerned with the social and religious elite, I was pleased to find so much included about gender roles and the daily lives of the common people.
While I strongly suspect this is a text for a 200-300 level archeology course on the Maya, it is very well written with a depth and detail that I wish more academic writers were able to pull off. For the non-academic, I still recommend this book, but read it judiciously and refer to the table of contents or index to highlight areas of interest. Highly recommended.