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Stone of Kings: In Search of The Lost Jade of The Maya Hardcover – December 6, 2011
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“A compelling tale.... This well-focused and well-told account brings America’s most mythologized gemstone into sharp relief.”
—Wall Street Journal
“[A] great pre-Columbian civilization takes center stage in Gerard Helferich’s Stone of Kings . . . the story of the search for the long-vanished mines of the Mayas and their predecessors, the Olmecs . . . [with] engaging digressions into plate tectonics, the technology of jade carving and the brutal history of the regimes of a succession of Guatemalan generals. . . . [Prospectors] Ridinger and Johnson endured earthquakes, coups, kidnapping, even civil war. But eventually they stumbled upon huge blocks of the alluring, elusive stone.”
—New York Times Book Review
“This is an absorbing and exciting story about a stone that ancient Mesoamericans prized above gold. The search for the sources of this mysterious rock reads like detective fiction, and involves geologists, archaeologists, entrepreneurs, poachers, and a host of other characters, but it’s all true. A wonderful read!”
—Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code
“While others were anticipating the dubious 2012 Long Count apocalypse, Gerard Helferich was chasing an answer to a much more interesting Maya mystery—where had the legendary Maya jade come from? Stone of Kings is a rare creature in the world of adventure literature: equal parts fascinating travelogue, rich history, and good old-fashioned detective story.”
—Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu
“Stone of Kings is a well-written and fascinating book that tells the full story of Mesoamerican jade. In today’s world jade is a highly prized gemstone, but for the ancient Maya and other pre-Columbian Mesoamerica civilizations, jade was the most precious and powerful substance in the universe. Against the backdrop of the rise and fall of these civilizations, and a history of conquest, revolution, and civil war, Gerard Helferich describes how archaeologists, geologists, adventurers, and entrepreneurs rediscovered the long lost source of Mesoamerican jade. He also tells us how this discovery led to the rebirth of the art of jade carving in Guatemala, the original homeland of both jade and the Maya people.”
—Robert Sharer, author of The Ancient Maya
“In Stone of Kings, Gerard Helferich finally demystifies jade in the Americas. From the other-earthly blues of Olmec times to the apple-green translucent jades of the Classic Maya, this book is a gripping travelogue through time and the mysterious backcountry of Guatemala, where fabulous discoveries of this most exotic and highly treasured stone of the New World have recently been made.”
—David W. Sedat, Founding Director, The Copan 2012 Botanical Research
“This is a delightful and exciting book. It has a perfect mix of science and adventure, plus a fascinating cast of real characters, the jade hunters themselves. Recommended to anyone who likes tales of archaeology mixed with adventure—and vice versa!”
—Arthur Demarest, author of Ancient Maya: The Rise and Fall of a Rainforest
“Synthesizing the works of geologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians, this book is a highly readable and fascinating description of the search for jade in Mesoamérica from ancient times to the present. Helferich intertwines this story skillfully with the political and economic history of Guatemala and with the crucial role that entrepreneurs Jay and Mary Lou Ridinger of Antigua Guatemala played in this process.”
—Ralph Lee Woodward, author of A Short History of Guatemala
“An engrossing read that should be enjoyed by the general public and scholars alike.”
—Jeremy A. Sabloff, President, Santa Fe Institute
“Fusion of geological treatise and adventure yarn, exploring the mysteries of Central American jade…. Helferich delivers a lively narrative…. Engaging cross-cultural tale of ancient peoples and modern desires.” —Kirkus Reviews
From the Inside Flap
Top Customer Reviews
The author has done his homework and framed his subject well. I'm pleasantly surprised at the way he is able to take what many may regard as a 'dry' subject and make it exciting. The way it's written should appeal to anyone who has even a modest interest in mesoamerica. For those of us who have a deeper interest in mesoamerican archaeology, it's a 'must read' in the style of an Indiana Jones thriller.
What's even more fascinating is that the search continues for further information about this mysterious and precious stone...and the possible connection to the ancient Chinese culture. We may never know all the answers, but the search can take on a life of its own as suggested in the pages of this fine work.
I think the author did an excellent job of summarizing the history of the area as well as describing the recent "rediscovery" of the areas. Also, he delves into the geology of "jade" and the techniques of measuring various parameters, which I found interesting.
I had no idea what the green material, being shown in a local shop was at the time. We purchased an interesting mask and (assuming my mask really is jade) this book adds another dimension to my understanding of it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A unique story of post-academia exploration and success in setting the record straight. And that is just part of the story. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Georgeann Johnson
I enjoyed it as did a friend of mine. He, too, is interested in Guatemala and jade.Published on August 15, 2014 by Tess
A well-crafted mystery. This book does not disappoint. This is a tale that is perhaps the beginning of a fuller library of similar exploration.Published on July 30, 2014 by Joe Wolverton, II
The book was interesting, though much too centered on a single family of entrepreneurs. I would have preferred that it pursue a more general archaeological overview instead. Read morePublished on September 22, 2012 by Elaine