The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings

David Drew

University of California Press 1999
A book review by Danny Yee © 2000
The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings is an excellent general introduction to the Maya: despite the title it is not at all sensational, or restricted to kings and chronicles. Drew begins with a chapter on the early exploration and archaeological discoveries, with Spanish sources such as Landa, nineteenth century explorers such as Stephens and Catherwood, and twentieth century scientists such as Thompson. He continues this in chapter three with an account of more recent progress in Maya studies, most notably the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphics and the historical riches it has revealed.

Chapter two describes the pre-Classic Maya region, from the earliest human settlement, through the influence of the Olmec and of Teotihuacan, to the rise of cities such as Nakbe and El Mirador. Chapters four and five cover the Classic period, recounting stories of leaders and wars and the founding and failure of dynasties which give Maya history the personal element we are accustomed to in (say) Mediterranean history. A separate chapter looks at Classic Maya religion, astronomy and mythology — and at life away from the monuments and records of rulers. Lost Chronicles continues with an account of the combined environmental and social collapse which ended the Classic period around 900 AD, the rise of new cities in northern Yucatan, and suggestions of a change to more distributed power structures. The final chapter traces the history of the Maya from the Spanish conquest, through the "last city" of Tayasal and the Caste War, down to the present.

Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings also has a nice collection of colour photographs.

June 2000

External links:
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Related reviews:
- Schmidt et al. - Maya Civilization
- books about Central America + Mexico
- more archaeology
- more medieval history
- books published by University of California Press
%T The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings
%A Drew, David
%I University of California Press
%D 1999
%O hardcover, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0520226127
%P xiii,450pp