Maya Civilization

Peter Schmidt, Mercedes de la Garza + Enrique Nalda (editors)

Thames and Hudson 1998
A book review by Danny Yee © 2000
Most will be drawn to Maya Civilization primarily by its glorious colour photographs. These cover a huge range of artifacts, buildings and sites and take up more than two thirds of the space: not only are many full or double (A4) page, but there are even some four page fold-out panoramas! But there's also some serious text: thirty papers on different aspects of Maya civilisation. These are a broad range of survey papers, with bibliographies, extending to such specialised topics as "Navigation and Trade on the Eastern Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula" and "Vegetation of the Maya Region". Also included — and taking up the last quarter of the volume — is the catalog for an exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

While Maya Civilization will be an invaluable reference for students of the Maya and could be appreciated as a simple coffee-table book, it is not a good general introduction for the newcomer to the subject. It has also been poorly edited: some of the papers have not been proofed at all, even though English is not the first language of their authors — and the very first paper is unfortunately the worst in this regard. It is puzzling that anyone can publish a volume like this, on whose illustrations so much care has obviously been expended, without being willing to pay peanuts to a starving graduate student to proofread it.

June 2000

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%T Maya Civilization
%E Schmidt, Peter
%E Garza, Mercedes de la
%E Nalda, Enrique
%I Thames and Hudson
%D 1998
%O hardcover, colour photographs, references, glossary, index
%G ISBN 0500018898
%P 695pp