THE MAYA WORLD by Elizabeth P. Benson


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With the increasing tourist interest in the Mayan ruins this book should serve a dual purpose--as a sound presentation of the salient facts of civilization that existed centuries before Columbus first sighted the mainland of the Americas (on his fourth voyage); and as a good background book for better comprehension of the excavations in Guatemala, Yucatan, Costa Rica today. The Mayans despite their advanced and unevenly brilliant culture are still a mystery, for their hieroglyphics have been only partially deciphered. Intellectually and esthetically they were sophisticated; technically they belonged to the Stone Age. But where they came from, back in 1500 B.C., why there seem definite Asiatic influences, why they built what they did and where, and most important of all what caused the disappearance of successive city and sacrificial settlements--remain a matter of various theories. The author, an authority on Pre-Columbian Art, has summarized the deductions from what survives: the architecture, the clues to social structure, the religious symbolism, the life of the people, the foods they ate, the trade in which they shared, their arts and crafts, their scientific accomplishments. And she has aligned the various theories on their disappearance. A final section records what the Spaniards--Columbus, Cordoba, Cortes, Montejo and the later travelers and explorers and archaeologists--found. A small book with a considerable range of information.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1967
Publisher: Crowell