Cover image for Handbook to life in the Ancient Maya world
Title:
Handbook to life in the Ancient Maya world
Author:
Foster, Lynn V.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Facts on File, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
xiv, 402 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780816041480
Format :
Book

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F1435 .F676 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Archaeological excavations of their ruined jungle cities and decoding of their hieroglyphs have generated increased interest in the oncemysterious Maya culture. One of the Mesoamerican civilizations that flourished in Mexico and parts of Central America, the Maya are becoming increasingly known for their contributions to science, mathematics, technology, and other aspects of life. The Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World sorts through recent groundbreaking discoveries to offer an accessible thematic presentation of the latest research on all aspects of Maya civilization, from its earliest beginnings to the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. Featuring a preface written by Peter Mathews, an influential Maya scholar and leading expert in the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphs, this volume profiles the everyday routines of the Maya with in-depth coverage of society, warfare, religion, architecture, astronomy, economy, writing, and daily life. The highly accessible format makes Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World an invaluable reference source for archaeologists, students, historians, and general readers alike. ""The authors of this book have done a masterful job in amassing information about Maya civilization from a wide variety of sources and from some reports that are so recent that they have not yet been published...In a field where new information emerges almost daily, and major discoveries still occur several times each year, the authors are impressively current in the information they provide...this book is an easy-to-read and most up-to-date account of ancient Maya civilization."" -Peter Mathews


Author Notes

Lynn V. Foster is a freelance writer, research scholar, and adjunct faculty member in the Hispanic Studies Department of the University of Massachusetts at Boston
Peter Mathews is professor of anthropology at the University of Calgary and a leading expert in the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs. He is a well-known scholar, lecturer, and author of numerous publications on the glyphs


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This useful new source for readers interested in the Maya is arranged in 12 readable chapters covering topics such as archaeology, geography, government, cosmology, architecture, astronomy, and daily life. These chapters are subdivided into sections that are usually several pages in length; examples are "Agriculture," "Other Food Production," "Craft Production, " and "Trade" in the chapter "Economy, Industry, and Trade." The subdivisions are in turn divided into smaller sections that each address a specific topic, such as "Soil Conservation and Intensive Cultivation or "Salt Production." An extensive index gives access to all of the topical subdivisions, and there are cross-references within the essays. Each chapter includes a reading list. The volume also includes a chronological chart of Maya history, an extensive bibliography, black-and-white illustrations and photographs, and maps. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures: The Civilizations of Mexico and Central America(Oxford, 2001) [RBB S 1 01] and Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia(Garland, 2001) [RBB Mr 1 01] each covers a wider scope of geography and cultures and is organized alphabetically instead of thematically. If forced to choose only one reference source on ancient Mesoamerican cultures, Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopediaprovides the best balance of comprehensive coverage and relatively low price ($150). The Handbook would be a useful addition to public and academic library collections that need more extensive coverage of the Maya. RBB.


Choice Review

Foster has done a good job pulling together an enormous body of information on the ancient Maya and making it accessible to the average reader. Written in jargon-free prose and divided into 12 chapters that cover religion, architecture, economy and industry, funerary beliefs and customs, and writing, the book should appeal to specialists and nonspecialists alike. Foster, a freelance writer and not an archaeologist or epigrapher, has been associated with one school of thought on Maya writing--the "University of Texas" school--and thus there is little mention of highly influential work done outside that school. The chapter on Maya hieroglyphic writing was penned by Ruth Krochock, and although informative, should be supplemented by Joyce Marcus's Mesoamerican Writing Systems (CH, Jul'93). Foster's book is well illustrated, and the inclusion of several maps showing the locations of sites and regions adds substantially to the discussion. Because the book is aimed primarily at lay audiences, there are no citations, making it impossible to corroborate particular statements made in the text. References to author and date appear at the end of chapters under the heading "Reading." Extremely well indexed, with a thorough references-cited section, the book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the prehistoric Maya, especially the lay public and undergraduate students. M. J. O'Brien University of Missouri--Columbia


Excerpts

Excerpts

From the Foreword: The authors of this book have done a masterful job in amassing information about Maya civilization from a wide variety of sources and from some reports that are so recent that they have not yet been published In a field where new information emerges almost daily, and major discoveries still occur several times each year, the authors are impressively current in the information they provide this book is an easy-to-read and most up-to-date account of ancient Maya civilization.--Peter Mathews Archaeological excavations of their ruined jungle cities and decoding of their hieroglyphs have generated increased interest in the once-mysterious Maya culture. One of the Mesoamerican civilizations that flourished in Mexico and parts of Central America, the Maya are becoming increasingly known for their contributions to science, mathematics, technology, and other aspects of life. The Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World sorts through recent groundbreaking discoveries to offer an accessible thematic presentation of the latest research on all aspects of Maya civilization, from its earliest beginnings to the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. Featuring a preface written by Peter Mathews, an influential Maya scholar and leading expert in the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphs, this volume profiles the everyday routines of the Maya with in-depth coverage of society, warfare, religion, architecture, astronomy, economy, writing, and daily life. The highly accessible format makes Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World an invaluable reference source for archaeologists, students, historians, and general readers alike. Excerpted from Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World by Lynn V. Foster All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Peter MathewsKaylee Spencer-Ahrens and Linnea H. WrenKaylee Spencer-Ahrens and Linnea H. WrenRuth J. Krochock
Acknowledgmentsp. vi
Forewordp. vii
Introductionp. xi
List of Mapsp. xiii
List of Illustrationsp. xiii
List of Tablesp. xiv
1 Maya Civilization and Archaeologyp. 1
Developments in Maya Archaeologyp. 5
Source Materialsp. 8
Readingp. 13
2 Evolution of Maya Civilizationp. 15
Summary of Major Periodsp. 17
Lithic Period (c. 12,000-7000 B.C.E.)p. 18
Archaic Period (c. 7,000-1200 B.C.E.)p. 19
Early Preclassic Period (c. 1200-1000 B.C.E.)p. 23
Middle Preclassic Period (c. 1000-300 B.C.E.)p. 29
Late Preclassic Period (c. 300 B.C.E.-250 C.E.)p. 34
Early Classic Period (c. 250-600)p. 43
Late Classic Period (c. 600-900)p. 49
Terminal Classic Period (c. 800-1000)p. 60
Early Postclassic Period (c. 900-1200)p. 68
Late Postclassic Period (c. 1200-1524)p. 72
The Spanish Conquest to the Presentp. 80
Readingp. 85
3 Geography of the Pre-Columbian Mayap. 89
Greater Mesoamericap. 91
Maya Geography and Mythologyp. 91
Maya Regional Diversityp. 92
Changing Environmentp. 97
Geography and Civilizationp. 99
Settlements and Agricultural Beginningsp. 100
Place-Names of Maya Citiesp. 103
Readingp. 116
4 Society and Governmentp. 117
Chiefdoms vs. Statesp. 119
Cities vs. Ceremonial Centersp. 119
Sociopolitical Evolution of the Maya Statep. 121
City-States, Regional States, and Superpowersp. 127
Classic Period Maya Rulershipp. 134
Postclassic Multepal Governmentp. 137
Conclusionp. 139
Readingp. 140
5 Warfarep. 141
Ruler as Warriorp. 143
The Militaryp. 144
Kinds of Warfarep. 147
War Tacticsp. 150
The Supernatural in Warp. 155
Readingp. 156
6 Religion, Cosmology, and Artp. 157
The Structure of Cosmic Spacep. 159
The Identities of the Godsp. 163
The Unfolding of Creationp. 171
The Sacred City: An Example from Palenquep. 174
The Role of Kings and Shamansp. 178
The Sustenance of Life: Popol Vubp. 183
The Purpose of Ritual Performancep. 187
Conclusionp. 197
Readingp. 197
7 Funerary Beliefs and Customsp. 201
Souls and the Afterlifep. 203
Burialsp. 207
Ancestor Worship and Legitimacyp. 211
Readingp. 212
8 Architecture and Buildingp. 213
Masonry Architecture and Laborp. 215
Architectural Developmentp. 216
Architectural Traitsp. 218
Temporal Stylistic Shiftsp. 222
Regional Variationsp. 223
Site Plansp. 226
Cosmology, Politics, and Architecturep. 229
Types of Constructionp. 230
Materials and Techniquesp. 238
Readingp. 243
9 Arithmetic, Astronomy, and the Calendarp. 245
Cyclical Historyp. 247
Maya Arithmeticp. 248
Origins of the Calendarp. 250
Cycles of Timep. 251
The Long Countp. 255
Other Cyclesp. 259
Astronomyp. 260
Summaryp. 262
Readingp. 263
10 Written Evidencep. 265
History of Maya Hieroglyphic Deciphermentp. 267
Mayan Languages and Writingp. 273
Decipherment of Hieroglyphsp. 277
Deciphered Hieroglyphsp. 281
Inscriptions on Public Monumentsp. 285
Maya Vase Writingp. 293
Name-Tagging and Ownership of Objectsp. 295
The Maya Codicesp. 296
Postconquest Literaturep. 299
Readingp. 304
11 Economy, Industry, and Tradep. 305
Agriculturep. 307
Other Food Productionp. 311
Craft Productionp. 314
Tradep. 319
Readingp. 326
12 Daily Lifep. 327
Diversity of Populationp. 329
The Familyp. 330
Crimes and Punishmentp. 332
The Maya Householdp. 333
Food and Drinkp. 335
Medicine and Healthp. 336
Personal Appearancep. 337
Entertainmentp. 340
Readingp. 342
Chronological Chartp. 343
Bibliographyp. 347
Indexp. 367