Synopses & Reviews
The Maya are of enormous and abiding fascination to anybody interested in archaeology, ancient history, astronomy, or the visual arts. From the 3rd century BC to the 14th century AD, while Europe was deep in the Dark and Middle Ages, the Maya were producing astonishing sculpture, stelae, and wall murals, and building magnificent temples, palaces, tombs, and ball courts. Now, in this extraordinary volume pairing a leading Maya scholar and one of the worldand#8217;s finest photographers of ancient sites, the rich cultural heritage of the Maya is brought vividly and authoritatively to life.
Author Michael Coe traces the rise and fall of Maya civilization through its great royal cities, from El Mirador, the largest and oldest, to the rival city-states of the Classical period such as Tikal, Calakmul, Yaxchiland#225;n, Palenque, Toninand#225;, and Copand#225;n. He then moves on to the great cities of the Terminal Classic period; at a time when the mighty centers of the southern lowlands were in a steep decline, cities to the north such as Uxmal and Kabah achieved a pinnacle of architectural beauty. After that he turns to the Postclassic period and Chichand#233;n Itzand#225; in central Yucatand#225;n, a huge, cosmopolitan city that flourished during a military and cultural takeover by the Toltecs of central Mexico. Through convincing analysis of archaeological evidence, new readings, of artifacts, reliefs, and murals, Professor Coe untangles the complex sequences of internecine ritual warfare that eventually weakened Maya civilization.
Illustrating Coeand#8217;s riveting history of these remarkable polities, the powerful dynasties that led them, and the political intrigues and armed conflicts that threatened their existence, are the exceptionally evocative photographs of Barry Brukoff, whose color and sepia imagery recalls the lithographs of the early-nineteenth-century artist and explorer Frederick Catherwood.
Praise for Royal Cities of the Ancient Maya:
"This book takes us on a three-thousand-year journey through Maya history, from nascent agrarian communities to coastal shrines of Yucatand#225;n on the eve of the Spanish conquest. Along the way, we visit the major centers of ancient Maya civilization, and in each locale we are given a unique private tour of its remarkable art and architecture through Barry Brukoffand#8217;s masterly photographs. Our guide on this epic journey is Michael Coe, whose vivid account is informed by vast knowledge of Mesoamerican culture. Royal Cities of the Ancient Maya is an experience not to be missed."and#151;Professor Andrea Stone, Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
"A sumptuous presentation of all things Maya. The architecture, art, and history of this extraordinary people are covered in great detail, from the first farmers to the arrival of the Spaniards. During this long interval of some 3500 years, the Maya created one of the most distinctive of ancient civilizations, here wonderfully revealed by Michael Coe, a leading authority in the field, and the superb photographs of Barry Brukoff. Royal Cities of the Ancient Maya is a feast for the eye and the mind for the scholar and the general reader alike."and#151;Dr. David L. Webster, Professor of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania
"Stunning photographs by Barry Brukoff illuminate insights and smart prose from Michael Coe, one of the most knowledgeable scholars of the ancient Maya, in Royal Cities of the Ancient Maya. For both general readers and specialists, this highly readable book offers wonderful surprises, along with the latest and most up-to-date interpretations. No bookshelf should be without it."and#151;Dr. Mary Miller, Dean of Yale College, Sterling Professor of Art, History of Art of the Ancient New World, author of The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec
"This book is glorious. Panoramic in two senses, it offers masterful commentary by Michael Coe, doyen of Mayanist scholars, along with B
The Maya has long been established as the best, most readable introduction to the New World's greatest ancient civilization. In these pages Michael D. Coe distills a lifetime's scholarship for the general reader and student. The eighth edition incorporates the latest archaeological and epigraphic research. Among the finest new discoveries are the spectacular polychrome murals of Calakmul, which provide archaeological evidence for the importance of marketplaces in the Classic Maya cities as well as giving a unique glimpse into Maya daily life. Other recent finds relate to the initial peopling of the Maya area by Early Hunters and Archaic peoples. It is clear that the birth of Maya civilization lies not in the Classic but in the Preclassic period, above all in the Mirador Basin of northern Guatemala, where the builders of gigantic ancient cities erected the world's largest pyramid as early as 200 BC. In addition, the persistent influence of the precocious Olmec civilization of southeast Mexico on the development of complex society in the Maya area has become more apparent. These and other discoveries continue to suggest that we must rethink what we mean by the term "Classic." This edition concludes with new historical evidence for the crucial role played by collaborationist native leaders, both Maya and non- Maya, in the Spanish conquest of the region.
"The gold standard of introductory books on the ancient Maya."--
About the Author
Michael D. Coe is Charles J. MacCurdy Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University, and Curator Emeritus at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Barry Brukoff is an award-winning photographer whose books include Temples of Cambodia: The Heart of Angkor and The Enigma of Stonehenge (text by John Fowles).