- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Edition Unstated edition (January 24, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0688112048
- ISBN-13: 978-0688112042
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya Paperback – January 24, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Two Maya archeologists base this tale of war, expansion and ritual on recently deciphered Mayan hieroglyphics and artifacts. According to PW , the authors "vividly conjure the Maya world of cyclical time and multiple levels of reality, a universe where all things are alive with meaning." Illustrated.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
David Freidel has been a Maya archaeologist for twenty years. He teaches at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
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- Instead of reasonably coherent and systematic top-down treatise of the Mayan civilization, we get "lumps" of lengthy and excruciatingly boring discussions of some specific detail or event in Mayan history, what evidence there is for it, and how it is supported by the graphics discovered.
- The book is choke-full of very well done drawings of Mayan graphics that survived, but these drawings are barely annotated (the annotations that are present are of such kind an archaeologist would scribe for himself, much less for anyone else) and there is absolutely no attempt to explain it to someone who has not devoted his life to Mayan civilization research. I mean, it is great that you get an annotation like "sacrifice" pointing to an incomprehensible (to an uninitiated) jumble of lines, but that is as much explanation as you get.
Here's a good analogy from the computer world (I know, geeks here): the book is akin to being handed a grimoire on PostScript language when all you need to do is to print a couple of documents.
To summarize, if you are already well-versed in Mayan history, script, and culture, you would absolutely LOVE this book as it will greatly deepen your knowledge of specific events in Mayan history in a well supported, documented, and illustrated manner. If you are - like me - just want to learn more about Maya, their history, religion, culture, and maybe even get some very basic understanding of the principles of their writing system, this is probably not the book you are looking for.
The book also shows how the Mayan glyphs and counting systems work. There are nowadays very good texts on the writing system itself, but this book shows us how the glyphs are woven into the culture and religion of these people. We learn how the lineage worked and how the monuments were used as what we would call propaganda to support one line over other possibilities. We learn about the role of magic and visions and the way the leaders were the empowered by those visions.
There is just so much here that any reader will be richly rewarded. The Mayan civilization is incredibly fascinating because it is so foreign to our own and yet it is a part of the heritage of the American continents.
This book isn't just a text, it is a work of art in itself. You will have a hard time putting it down.