on 5 June 2008
Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens is a lavishly illustrated, well-written and informative guide to the lives of the Maya rulers and the rainforest world in which they occupied.
Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube present some of the most up to date information on these mysterious rulers and their various competing kingdoms, as well as sharing some brief information on Maya culture.
The book starts by giving you a chronological overview of the main epochs of Maya history, before briefly covering subjects such as politics, timelines, culture, the Maya Code and the calendar.
With these topics introduced, the book starts covering the short biographies of some of the most influential rulers of the various Maya states. These cover well known figures such as the mighty Pakal I and Lady Six Sky, as well as the more obscure figures, some of whom whose names we do not know. At the bottom of each page there is a running timeline that shows you when each monarch reigned.
The various cities whose dynasties are covered are - Tikal; Dos Pilas; Naranjo; Caracol; Calakmul; Yaxchilan; Piedras Negras; Palenque; Tonina; Copan and Quirigua. Each section gives you a map of every city, displaying the location of the pyramids, markets and temples so that you can put them in their contexts. There is also a full-page colour map of the entire Mayan region near the beginning of the book.
The book is also notable for having up to 366 illustrations, 86 of which are in colour. These range from photographs of archaeological sites and remains, to artist reconstructions of cities and architecture (including temple and pyramid cutaways), as well as line drawings based on Maya stele and codices(including the codex pictures themselves).
The sheer amount of information covered here is breathtaking. This is the first book I've brought on this subject, and I haven't been disappointed. The writers are experts on the subject and they convey their vast knowledge in an easy to read format.
Those looking for an overview of Maya culture and daily life might be disappointed, as this book covers these subjects briefly. After all this a chronicle of the rulers of the Maya and not a full introduction to their world. That said - this ought to be read by anyone who has an interest in the subject and would be a worthy purchase by those who intend to visit these sites. A must have for any Mayanist!