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Maya: Divine Kings of the Rain Forest Lost cities in the jungle and towering temple pyramids only represent a small detail of our picture of the Maya Our knowledge of Maya life has increased considerably during the past few decades This book provides a comprehensive overview of the most recent research, compiled by experts from various disciplines The topics of the contributions range from ancient Maya agriculturists to the inhabitants of the large cities in the rain forest, from the Spanish conquest to the modern Maya movement The everyday life and religion of this important civilization are described, as well as its tremendous artistic and intellectual achievements A complete look at the Maya civilization from Pre Classic to modern times, this book takes you to their world From the jaw droping works of art, to thepopular Mayan architecture, the pictures in the book are first rate The book was written by various Mayan experts whose passion for the subject shines through what I thought was going to be tedious textbook type writing Each section begins with a two page spread of a work of art, which I can t stress enough are some of the most inspiring A complete look at the Maya civilization from Pre Classic to modern times, this book takes you to their world From the jaw droping works of art, to thepopular Mayan architecture, the pictures in the book are first rate The book was written by various Mayan experts whose passion for the subject shines through what I thought was going to be tedious textbook type writing Each section begins with a two page spread of a work of art, which I can t stress enough are some of the most inspiring and moving works of art I have ever seen, and follows with text and supporting pictures I will here refrain from rattling off all the fascinating things about the Maya that I learned, except to say that the arrival of the Europeans was put in a different andrealistic perspective for me By the time they showed up, the Yacatan Maya had already developed an international trade with the lowland and highland Maya and with the Aztec Empire including maritime trade despite the silly myth that they couldn t see the ships because their brains couldn t conceptualize them Moreover, they had been fighting each other forthan a thousand years, and anytime one chiefdom defeated another they subjagated its people and forced their religion and culture upon them So when the Europeans arrived they basically did the same thing, only it lasted hundreds of years, which is really the sad part, because even today the majority of Mayans are being exploited by the Guatamalan state and by large wealthy land owners And all because they had no domesticable large mammals This is one of the best texts I ve read about the Mayan day to day lifestyle Covering the calendars, the religious aspects, the political intrigues, as well as the colonial period and current day issues with their modern descendents This book gives a good sense of them as a people, as opposed to the mystified view that us moderns tend to have of them. MAYA Divine Kings of the Rain ForestNot just a pretty picture book the text provides significant content on the Maya and how it was interpreted from the archaeological evidence Here is a sampling of some of the information provided P14 contemporaries of the Olmec culture on the Mexican Gulf coastP15 oldest texts present Maya script a level of uniformity and complexity that there must have been earlier stages that perhaps did not survive because of wood materials utilizedP16 whereas the Clas MAYA Divine Kings of the Rain ForestNot just a pretty picture book the text provides significant content on the Maya and how it was interpreted from the archaeological evidence Here is a sampling of some of the information provided P14 contemporaries of the Olmec culture on the Mexican Gulf coastP15 oldest texts present Maya script a level of uniformity and complexity that there must have been earlier stages that perhaps did not survive because of wood materials utilizedP16 whereas the Classic period was a time of despotic devine kings, the Postclassic had less opulent public architecture and relatively small palaces signalling a reduced significance in the traditional ruling elite A counter movement type of middle class appears to have formed that became involved with export trade that increased as indicated by gold from southern Central America, turquoise from SW USA and copper from the west coastP30 the Maya used blow guns to hunt small birds shooting them with clay pellets Larger birds were hunted with arrows.P33 The way the Maya used and processed cacao has been learnt from hieroglyphs on Maya ceramics cacao vessels of the early Classic were not as high as the tall slim ones of a later periodP40 public health was better and people grew taller prior to 400BC as corroborated by human remainsP48 obsidian trade from four sources in southern Guatemala flourished from the beginning of the Early Classic periodP49 the obsidian trade was controlled by Teotihuacan P55 Olmec site orientation is primarily north south while early Maya centers Makbe, Tintal, El Mirador were along an east west axis which was consistent with subsequent Maya centers suggesting that monumental architecture in the Lowlands developed without outside influenceMassive 40,000 square meters platforms provided the basis for formal consistent architectural complexeThe Late Middle Classic period witnessed the first ball court at Nakbe P62 large causeways ranged between 18 24 meters wide and one to four meters in height and could be as along as 20 kmAgricultural intensification is suggested through terracing and repeated application of imported swamp mud The accrued agricultural wealth provided the revenue for increased spending on labor, exotic imports, a professional army and ambitious architectural construction The wealth also provided the basis for considerable social status as suggested by the appearance of elite royal tombs and burials.The El Tigre complex at El Mirador represented five million working days only to move 428,680 cubic meters of construction fill.P63 there was burning and destruction in the transition period between the Preclassic Protoclassic period 350BC AD250 and Early Classic AD 250 550 as well as construction of massive fortifications.P64 obsidian imports use dropped off dramatically and large scale architectural programs ceased the major sites were abandoned The waxy ceramic slips became fardull and prone to flakingThere appears to have been little interaction between the different settlements during this period, since construction patterns, pottery types, tombs and burial offerings seem to vary widely within an area or even within a site.P66 Jade was used to make objects of art dating back to 1200BC Where the Maya had obtained their Jade was unknown until the 1970s It was transported long distances as a trading commodity.P71 Maize was harvested in Mexico as long ago as 5000 BC Later chili, squash and cotton were added.P74 Evidence of silvaculture was derived from the breadnut or ramon tree which produced an edible nut and its leaves were used to feed pack animals The amapolla tree was a useful marker for finding the location of ancient sites The tree bears bright red fruit in the spring, which was a sacred color of the Maya The tree s sap could be easily collected and fermented to make a highly intoxicating drink.P76 Farmers had to make tribute in the form of food and enjoyed the protection of the city state ruler in whose territorial regime he lived Channels were dug into river banks to that water could be diverted to increase food production.P78 in one place dams were added to serve as fish holding tanksP79 Canals and terracing were wide spread to control and provide even distribution of rainwater and help prevent erosion Terraces were in particular large numbers around Caracol in southern Belize.None of the intensive agricultural methods has survived, neither the raised fields nor the terraces Now intensive cultivation is only possible through expensive artificial fertilizers.P80 Tortillas are highly labor intensive to prepared the maize kernels have to be removed from the cob and soaked overnight to which a little limestone or cooking ash has been added This results in an alkaline solution that helps break down the amino acids and increases the maize s nutritional value In the early morning the solution is poured away and the now soft kernels ae ground to a fine dough on a metate stone grinding table with a mano hand pestle Then the tortillas are shaped by hand through repeated slapping motions before the flat loaves are placed on a kind of griddle over a wood fire and baked until golden They are best eaten immediately.P104 Evidence of the impact of Teotihuacan on the Maya can be established archaeologically from its art and iconography and also from hieroglyphic inscriptions the lack of any true infusion between the two styles it is quite clear that Teotihuacan motifs are always viewed as foreign or alien In the grammar of Maya dress, Teotihuacan elements ae absorbed in a variety of ways At times, a single Mexican motif is incorporated into an otherwise purely Maya costume elsewhere we see Teotihuacan from head to toe.P108 Evidence demonstrates that Tikal Teotihuacan links go back well before AD 378.P109 Teotihuacan influenced the Maya cities of Kaminaljuyu and CopanP115 Deciphering Maya hieroglyphs rates as on the major intellectual adventures of our time.P116 The four Maya bark paper manuscripts Codices escaped burning because they were passed onto the Hapsburgs from the Spanish royalty as exotic gifts, where they were put in cabinets of curiosities and forgotten.P121 Until a few decades ago, the general feeling was that the signs had little to do with sounds, but that each sign represented a word or an idea.Sumerian cuneiform writing hasthan 600 symbols, and the hieroglyphs of the Hittites manages with 497 These two systems, which are similarly constructed, consist of vowel consonant combinations.P122 Because Ch olan the language of hieroglyphs has five vowels and 22 consonants, it follows there must have been at least 110 syllable signs In addition there were a series of pure vowel signs The number of syllabograms isthan 110, since many syllables havethan one sign to represent them.P125 Maya writing allows an absolutely precise reproduction of every sound in Mayan They were able to differentiate between chok to throw and ch ok young prince.The aesthetic quality of the writing was of utmost importance since it emphasized the sacredness of its character Unlike most writing systems, Maya writing arose not from the needs to record economic transactions, but was from the outset a medium for turning to the gods, or legitimizing the rule of kings P126 Of the approximately 800 signs in Mayan about 300 have been deciphered as of 2001 and we have aor less precise understanding of the meaning of another 300.P128 The codices described as a book of leaves by the Spaniards were in reality books of a paper that was made from the fibers of the bark of a fig tree that were mixed with starch and then processed into flat strips of paper, using stone beaters there were grooved on the bottom The bark paper was whitened with a fine layer of plaster, which scribes wrote on with tiny brushes and fine feathers The end product was usually several meters long, and folded up like a concertina The items were bound in wood and sometimes jaguar skin and stored in wooden boxes The standard format was 20 25 cm high and half that wide.P129 The 22 pages of the Paris Codex does not match the elegance of the Dresden Codex but it isaccurate and detailed than the Madrid Codex The Paris Codex deals with prophesies for the 1320 years of the K atun cycles of the Maya calendar the description of the creation of the universe and the 13 signs of the Maya zodiac.P247 Classic Maya polychrome ceramics are one of the world s most advanced forms of low fire painted pottery, surpassing even the ancient Greeks in their technical and artistic finesse Maya artists developed a glossy and hard surfaced slip paint called terra sigillata, made by separating out the tiniest particles of clay Court life was most frequently depicted on Maya ceramics.P246 Classic Maya potter was fired between 500 700 degrees C, easily reached in open bonfires and fire pits.P251 Painted pottery was a social currency as gifts exchanged among ruling segments of Maya society to cement political relataionships.P286 structure of the Cosmos had the same four colours of the Plains Medicine Wheel in the same orientation north white, east red, south yellow, black westP354 Back belt looms were used for several thousand years They were light and portable and could be taken on journeys Threads were dyed blue from Indigofera plants, carmine from the chochineal beetle, and dark violet from the purpura snail.P373 Around twenty different Spanish expeditions traversed the Maya region imposing colonial rule.P380 Pedro de Alvarado after helping Cortez conquer Mexico is said to have been responsible for killing 4 million Maya between 1524 and 1540.The Appendices offer explanation of terms and quick summaries of over 90 Maya sites cities along with colourful timeline portrayals of events, types of architecture and ceramic styles

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