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!
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!