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The Code of Kings: the Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs [Perfect Paperback]

Linda Schele , Peter Mathews , Macduff Everton , Justin Kerr
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £12.98
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Book Description

28 Jun 1999
This unique and extraordinary guide to seven major sites of Maya civilization highlights the pioneering work of two great scholars of ancient America. For readers at every level -- from the casual tourist to the serious student -- "The Code of Kings" relies on Linda Schele and Peter Mathews's revolutionary work in the decipherment of the hieroglyphs that cover the surfaces of Maya ruins to give us a far clearer picture of Maya culture than we have ever had. Richly illustrated with line art and the incomparable photography of Justin Kerr and Macduff Everton, "The Code of Kings" is a landmark contribution to our understanding of the Maya and a phenomenal guided tour of seven of the most awesome and magical spots on Earth.

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The Code of Kings: the Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs + A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya
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Product details

  • Perfect Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Ill edition (28 Jun 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684852098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684852096
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 418,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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George E. Stuart, Ph.D. vice president for research and exploration, "National Geographic" A glorious summary of the Maya world.

About the Author

The late Linda Schele was the John D. Murchison Professor of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. Her books include "The Blood of Kings" (with Mary Miller), "A Forest of Kings" (with David Freidel), and "Maya Cosmos" (with David Freidel and Joy Parker). She died in the spring of 1998.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Schele & Mathews,two of the world's most gifted epigraphers, explore the meaning of the most beautiful Maya monuments and cities. They explain in detail the significance of symbolism against the backdrop of Maya government, politics, and the advanced cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Anyone who has traveled or hopes to travel to Chichen Itza, Palenque, Tikal or the other cities they describe will have a new appreciation for the achievements of the Maya culture. Schele and Mathews take the reader on a time-journey to unlock the mysteries of the greatest culture of the western hemisphere. Beautifully and profusely illustrated, this book will be treasured by Maya afficianados as well as the casual tourist to Mexico or Guatemala.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a collector's item. 30 Jun 1998
By A Customer
You should buy this book, or you will be sorry when all the copies get sold out. Since Professor Schele has now passed on to the Supernatural Otherworld -where she will journey along the axis mundi and through the Black Transformer-to be joined with the source of the Maya lifeforce- she won't be writing any more cool Maya books for us to read. It's a collector's item. Buy it before it's too late. FFD
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Linda's work 22 Nov 1998
By A Customer
A book any amateur Mayanist will cherish forever... containing many thoughtful and incredibly insightful analyses of sites and their details, both popular and obscure. One of the best books in any collection and, I think, the best in the author's very distinguished career. Buy this book!
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily insightful 20 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
As a professional archaeologist I found this one of the most insightful books on the Maya I've ever read--and what a pleasure it is. You really catch the excitement of the hunt for the soul of the Maya, from two terrific key scholars. No one has ever tried this approach before, delving the "Maya mysteries" by deeply (and clearly) illustrating the finds and exploring the meanings associated with one outstanding building from each of several well known Maya sites. Each building selected also represents a distinctive TYPE of Maya structure as well: funerary or ritual pyramids, the Chichen ball court, broad plazas ("oceans!"), and great palaces, among others. The reader may not realize how new and innovative their proposed discoveries are, so smoothly and convincingly presented are they. They pull together many recent research advances, and push beyond. They reconstruct history and ritual, right down to the dance steps. Of course this type of analysis only works where one has extraordinary preservation, and texts still directly associated with their original buildings (rather than lost to some foreign collector). The thousands of typical ruined buildings could supply little of the rare information they use here; hopefully their insightful analyses will apply to the aggregate types as well. This is a really fascinating book, one that reads like a novel or good mystery. Even better, the text is organized in layers so you can pick the level of detail you want to follow, from a tourist summary to intricate details of textual exegesis and webs of inferences in the endnotes. This would make a wonderful second book on the Maya (after a general introduction, as by Mike Coe, Norman Hammond, or John Henderson, q.v.).
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A field guide to seven great Mayan sites- magnificently done 28 Jun 2004
By Craig Matteson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Perfect Paperback
What a magnificent book for any general reader, like me, who loves to read about the cultures of Mesoamerica. The authors take us on a tour of seven of the best known and most visited sites: Tikal, Palenque, Copan, Seibal, Chich'en Itza, Uxmal, and Iximche'. The book opens with a most helpful introduction to the archaeology of Mayan culture and the cultural elements that are common to all the city-states / regions that we call Mayan.
Look at page 21 at the photo from 1891 that shows us what the Temple of the Inscriptions looked like before excavation and restoration. Obviously, all the trees that are cleared in the picture would have hidden them even more, but the photo could not have been taken with them there. As you read through the lessons on Mayan architecture, housing, writing, religion, and warfare, the Maya become life and blood people who existed at a time and place that becomes nearer to us through this great book.
If you are planning to visit one or more of these sites, then this book is a must read as well as a field guide to take with you on the trip. The authors take key features and each site and explain them in detail. What a great experience it would be to stand in front of these monuments, murals, and temples with this most helpful text helping you understand what you are seeing.
The book is richly illustrated with many drawings of important inscriptions, buildings, monuments, and architectural details. There are also many black and white photographs, and a section of wonderful color plates to help us understand the beauty of the natural setting that provides the context for these cultures.
After the visits to the cities there are many helpful features that comprise another hundred pages of the book. First, a concordance of Maya personal names provides the spelling used in this book, alternative and common anglicized versions of that name, and a brief description of who that person was. There is also a key to pronunciation and orthography that I found to be most helpful. It is always intimidating to see words without having any idea how they would be said.
The notes section is full of very helpful information for those readers who want to dig a little deeper as is the list of references (really, a bibliography). The Glossary of Gods and Supernaturals is amazingly interesting and helpful and the index is a handy way to get back to certain topics in each section when you are trying to tie the cultural elements together across time and geography.
As I said at the beginning, this is a fantastic and wonderful achievement that I am very grateful for and it is a final example of why we miss Linda Schele so much. The other authors are also fine and will continue to bring us much, but Prof. Schele had a special eye for the aesthetic achievements of the Maya and the ability to help us see things her way and enriched all of us who are fortunate enough to read her words.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great achivement in art/history commentary 11 Nov 2001
By "danielinyaracuy" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Perfect Paperback
"The Code of Kings" suffers from too much seriousness. The structure of the book relies on interpreting some main architectural achievements of the Mayan kings who commissioned them. That is, for most chapters a brief historical narrative is followed by a detailed description of the monumental group of interest and ends with an interpretation as to its relevance. The interpretations are good, and we can appreciate the great scholarly gifts of Linda Schele (in particular when the authors dispose of the Toltec Maya myths of Chichen Itza). We can even be moved at times such as when the authors talk of the Great Plaza of Waxaklahun-Ubah-K'Awil (this reviewer was happy to have read it a few days before going to Copan). However, this dense package might scare away a more casual reader of the Maya history. It also makes this book pretty useless to take along in your trip to Guatemala and Yucatan, unless you will have plenty of time to sit down under some trees and read while you visit. But if you have plenty of time to prepare for your trip, you definitely need to read it. And of course, it is a must in any serious book collection on the Maya.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Code of Kings 8 April 2000
By Atheen M. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
This is a fairly in depth discussion of the epigraphic evidence from various Mayan cities, including Tikal, Palenque, Copan, Seibal, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Iximche. The first chapter gives a brief overview of the Mayan region, writing, architecture, and mythology that helps orient the reader to the cultural and physical setting of the ancient centers. Thereafter each chapter is deducated to a specific site, its architecture, the written material illuminating its history, and its public personalities. Ms Schele's book brings to life the ancient people, making them more real to the reader. It, like "Lords of Tikal" by Peter Harrison (for which see my review list by clicking on my name or go to the book itself), helps the reader appreaciate the accomplishments of this society and of the researchers who have reclaimed it.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An original concept beautifully executed 18 April 2001
By Rafael Kühn - Published on Amazon.com
The last major book of the late, great Linda Schele, this volume represents an important epitaph as well as one of the most fascinating recent publications about the Maya. Its approach is to provide the reader with the history incorporated into several famous sites, thereby turning them from anonymous stone monuments into vessels relating captivating facts about Maya history and mythology. This works beautifully, especially in the highly detailed chapters on the Southern lowland sites, and as if that weren't enough, Schele and Matthews pack in some challenging, if not revolutionary theories as well. So, if you want to have the latest information about Maya research, there's no way around this book. A fact which also holds true if you simply want to visit the places described here, not as a blind-folded tourist but as someone who can peek into the complex meanings worked into the artworks of stone around you thousands of years ago. Which is probably the greatest gift Linda Schele could have left us.
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