The Maya: a Very Short Introduction

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 13. aug 2020 - 160 pages
The Maya forged one of the greatest societies in the history of the ancient Americas and in all of human history. Long before contact with Europeans, Maya communities built spectacular cities with large, well-fed large populations. They mastered the visual arts, and developed a sophisticated writing system that recorded extraordinary knowledge in calendrics, mathematics, and astronomy. The Maya achieved all this without area-wide centralized control. There was never a single, unified Maya state or empire, but always numerous, evolving ethnic groups speaking dozens of distinct Mayan languages. The people we call "Maya" never thought of themselves as such; yet something definable, unique, and endlessly fascinating - what we call Maya culture - has clearly existed for millennia. So what was their self-identity and how did Maya civilization come to be "invented?"

With the Maya historically subdivided and misunderstood in so many ways, the pursuit of what made them "the Maya" is all the more important. In this Very Short Introduction, Restall and Solari explore the themes of Maya identity, city-state political culture, art and architecture, the Maya concept of the cosmos, and the Maya experience of contact with including invasion by outsiders. Despite its brevity, this book is unique for its treatment of all periods of Maya civilization, from its origins to the present.

 

Contents

Creating the Maya
1
Maya genesis
9
The divine king
23
The writing rabbit
43
A day in the life
57
Conquests
68
Colonizations
87
Acknowledgments
109
References
111
Further reading
113
Index
117
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About the author (2020)


Matthew Restall, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Anthropology and Director of Latin American Studies, Penn State University; Amara Solari, Professor of Art History and Anthropology, Penn State University.

Matthew Restall is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History and Anthropology and Director of Latin American Studies at Penn State University. His books include The Maya World, Maya Conquistador, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest, The Black Middle, 2012 and the End of the World, The Conquistadors: A Very Short Introduction, and When Montezuma Met Cort s: The True Story of the Meeting Than Changed History.

Amara Solari is Professor of Art History and Anthropology at Penn State University. She is the co-author of 2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse, and author of Maya Ideologies of the Sacred: The Transfiguration of Space in Colonial Yucatan, and Idolizing Mary: Maya-Christian Icons in Early Modern Yucat n.

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