MAYAN ENIGMA by Pierre Ivanoff


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This careful journal records the French archaeologist's ten year inquiry into a twofold puzzle. Why did the classical Mayans build their incredible cities in the most inaccessible and almost unlivable areas in Central America? And why did they completely abandon them to disappear as the western hemisphere's most vital early culture? Ivanoff's search for clues led to the discovery of a lost city in the jungles of Peten and to years of living with a primitive tribe called the Lacandons who most closely resemble, both physically and culturally, the ancient Mayans. In addition to the daily details of this intriguing way of life, this is also a remarkable account of a scholar's mind at work as he makes his way, step by step, through a labyrinth of mysteries to arrive at at least two viable conclusions -- first that the Mayans (whose cities were really centers of worship) developed a commerce based on the selling of incense -- a religious necessity -- and built their cities close to the source of this product (the remote jungle). The second and most fascinating conclusion derives from his elaborate study of the Mayans' obsession with time. They based their entire civilization on the notion that they were living in a finite, temporal universe, a span of 5200 years. And time ran out. . . . A provocative book for both scholars and laymen. Bibliography.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1971
Publisher: Delacorte