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Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya Hardcover – 9 Oct 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd; 1st. Edition edition (9 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500051038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500051030
  • Product Dimensions: 26.1 x 20.1 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 615,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Notman on 24 Nov 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is what has been missing from Maya studies for an age- a concise chronicle of what can be frankly baffling to anyone coming to the area from scratch. It doesnt pretend to be a history of the Maya- simply of (some) of its rulers- which is deeply unfashionable now, but given the virtually unreadable state of most archaeological journals (all american and mostly potty or wordy to the point of unconciousness) its a start!
The illustrations are youre usual round of major world museums, but the text is the star here- people that have only been a largely unpronouncable word come alive - there is some sense of progression, change and humanity in what most books represent as a chaotic and barely comprehended maelstrom of faceless rulers. (yes that was wordy but it kinda flowed!)
i dont pretend to be an expert and im probably setting myself up to be shot down but this was a helping hand up to a difficult subject i sorely needed!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Jan 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book presents a very factual though necessarily sketchy account of the current knowledge of the history and interactions of several Maya kingdoms: Tikal, Dos Pilas, Caracol, Naranjo, Calakmul, Yaxchilan, Piedras Negras, Tonina, Palenque, Copan and Quirigua. The authors succeed in presenting the Classical Maya as the vibrant society that they were, describing the complex interaction, sometimes peaceful sometimes belicose, between these kingdoms. It is a pitty that other important kingdoms were left out: Cancuen, Bonampak, Altar de Sacrificios, Motul de San Jose... The text is very well written and accompanied with the right ammount of well chosen pictures. A must read for everyone interested in the Classical Maya. One of my personal favorites!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
THE Reference Guide for Classic Maya History 15 Jun 2001
By JEB CARD - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Until I finally started using this book (I've had my copy since December, but haven't been able to return to studying Maya History until now), I would have recommended Schele and Friedel's _Forest of Kings_ (1990) as the best synthesis of Maya History. Though _Forest_ is out of date, it did a remarkable job at establishing a general idea of what Classic Maya history was all about (I'm not sure I want to use the word paradigm here). But with _Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens_, Martin and Grube have achieved two great things.
First, they have finally provided a good public accounting of their work on the Calakmul alliance. The piecing together of Calakmul's history and political structure from the rest of the Maya lowlands is truly an important key to understanding Maya political evolution.
Second, they have produced a first rate synthesis of Classic Maya history, at a time when some of the pieces are really falling into place. This is an evident strength of the book. While the chapters on the Late Classic city-states (Yaxchilan, Copan, etc.) are informative, up-to-date, and useful, they primarily fill out a picture of squabbling city states that has been understood for some time.
But it is in the first half of the book, dealing primarily with the conquests of Tikal/Teotihuacan (a connection only now being revealed with any sense of understanding) and the rival alliance built by the city of Calakmul during the 4th-7th centuries AD, that this book truly shines.
The systematic presentation of information on the rulers (especially the listing of names used previously by other Maya historians and archaeologists) will be of incredible utility to anyone trying to understand Maya history. On the subject of names, Martin and Grube are definitely up to date on using phonetic readings for as many names as they can, though I am sometimes skeptical of phonetic readings that do not spell out known words. I do think that an extensive endnote section dealing with some of these readings (ala _Forest of Kings_) would be useful, but I also understand that such a section might not be appropriate for the series that _Chronicle_ is a part of.
Truly, my only complaint concerning _Chronicle_ would be that I wanted more (more sites, primarily). Assuming that Martin and Grube have built up a significant database of historical data in preparing this book, I for one would love to see a specialist work, sort of a "Maya Who's Who", on all known personages. But _Chronicle_ will be keeping me busy checking monuments and dates for quite some time. This is truly an important work, and one which will hopefully inform both Mesoamericanists and the general public about an important chapter in the history of the Americas.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Authoritative Eyeful 4 July 2002
By Thomas F. Ogara - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The amount of information that has accumulated about the Maya in the last ten years is extraordinary. I find it amazing to go to public libraries, even good ones like the state library here in Tallahassee, Florida, only to find that most of the books on the Maya date from the 1970's or earlier, and virtually everything they have to say about the historical context of Maya civilization is woefully out of date.
If you're out of date about the latest developments in Maya historiography, or if you're just developing an interest in the subject, you'll find this book to be of value. It gives the history of the major classic era cities (the book is completely about the classic period, and only digresses outside of that era to add supporting information), and does it in a format that is attractive and interesting. Indeed, many of the illustrations are of pieces that have only recently been unearthed, and this increases the interest of the book.
The one drawback is that the book is a little too advanced for the beginner - it can be difficult to work out the historical signposts - and a little too basic for the student already familiar with most recent work. A little more data about the overall context of the period and culture would be of some value. Aside from this one objection, it is an admirable work, well-written enough to capture the interest of the intelligent general reader while not giving the feeling that the authors are talking down to a non-specialist level. Definitely worth the read.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Excitingly political 30 Jan 2001
By tertius3 - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Highly recommended as a short, accessible, and not too technical introduction to Maya political history during the Classic Period (first millenium A.D.). Simon Martin is a brilliant young English art scholar and Nikolai Grube an outstanding epigrapher from Bonn. They collaborated to propose a new theory of grand shifting alliances among ancient Maya city states that roiled the Yucatan Peninsula 1500 years ago. This Chronicle (one in a Thames & Hudson series) includes that and more: it is an event-based chronicle of all the best known rulers of the ancient Maya world as currently inferred from their own pictorial hieroglyphics. It is a wonderful supplement for people interested in the Maya, with an exciting new history to outline.
There IS a chronological narrative running through it, but really this is a book to be studied. Only the 11 most powerful (or well-documented) Maya city states are presented in full. After a brief introduction to Maya history, five chapters trace the glyph-based histories of the most important cities (including Tikal and Calakmul). Then six chapters cover as many peripheral cities with full records (like Palenque and Copan), concluding with the fall of the kings. The text is festooned with innumerable photographs, line drawings of hieroglyphs and royalty, explanatory captions, kings' names, biographical tables, sidebars on archaeological topics, views of buildings, and shaded city plans. Helping you keep track of the impossible (and often similar) names are king headers and timeline footers. A useful bibliography and name (not topic) index complete the book
This book is not intended as a guide to famous ruins nor does it deal with the popular subject of Maya religion and cosmos. It deals with the political outcomes of the scheming and murder that underpinned all that. It does not provide glyph by glyph readings (as Schele and Mathews do for many of the same cities in the very different CODE OF KINGS). The book is printed on fine paper in Slovenia. (Hopefully we shall soon see some good novels fleshing out the bloody tales implied here.)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A great additional to a wonderful series 20 Nov 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The "Chronicle" series are excellent introductions to the leaders of a variety of past, and some present civilizations. The Mayan history is an excellent pictorial and narative of the Central American civilization. I am amazed at the information that can be presented in a fresh and non-dry, textbook fashion. It makes history even more interesting. It also is a great stepping off point for other readings on the subject.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A book for all your Classic Maya needs 11 Nov 2001
By "danielinyaracuy" - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is a perfect example on how to divulge history without making it too simple or pandering to the "sensationalist" aspects of the tale. The research on the ancient Maya culture over the last decades has revealed enough information that a more or less complete sequence of events can be drawn over several centuries. It also has revealed that the Mayan did not seem able, or willing, to strive towards the establishment of a centralized empire as others civilizations tried. The result is a complex story involving the struggles between loosely organized groups of petty states around a few major ones. Telling that tale in an exciting way is thus more difficult: no Alexander the Great figure here to follow.... But Martin and Grube have been able to spin the yard of quite a tale. Once you pass the catchy title that makes you wonder whether the inside will be lightweight history, you do realize that this is a very complete, if brief, book. After a concise introductory chapter, the authors chose deliberately to tell the story of a few individual cities. You might disagree as to why they chose those (Northern cities such as Uxmal are absent). You might have wanted a more unified tale of Mayan civilization. Or perhaps a more people's oriented history. But the fact is that there are not many facts on the ancient Maya in spite of recent advances. It is to the merit of the authors to make the most of these facts to write an informative story, a city based history as the Mayan were, without entering into undue speculations. And that the book is loaded with nice pictures, interesting maps and diagrams is a great plus. Nice enough for a coffee table, deep enough for a serious library.
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