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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Schelw Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. A Forest of Kings: Recent interpretation of Maya hieroglyphs has given the 1st written history of the New World as it existed before the European invasion. Here the great rulers of pre-Columbian civilization come to life again with the decipherment of their writing.
Long placed on a mist-shrouded pedestal as austere, peaceful stargazers, Maya elites are now known to have been the rulers of populous, aggressive city-states.
Hailed as “a Rosetta stone of Maya civilization” Brian M.
Una Selva de Reyes : David Freidel :
Paperbackpages. Published January 24th by William Morrow first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Forest of Kingsplease sign up.
Lists with This Book. The joy of this book is that it was one of the first to be published after the major breakthrough in understanding the Maya script. No longer were we in the serene world of priestly astronomers but of the would be big beasts of the political jungle asserting their greatness, heritage and deeds on steles. The obvious limitation is that as time moves on from publication, more is discovered and more is translated the more the views advanced in the book will be subject to revision.
However it tells of The joy of this book is that it was one of the first to be published after the major breakthrough in understanding the Maya script. However it tells of an interesting world. A city-state civilisation built out of the jungle that struggled to maintain political order in the face of an obscure environmental or ecological catastrophe. The big surprise was that understanding their script overturned understanding of the Maya world which because it was understood that they were interested in numbers and astronomy – many of their carved stelae marking significant dates, so it was thought they were cerebral astronomers their culture fixated upon the heavens, their written inscriptions revealed that their interest in dates and astronomy and conjunctions was in part political.
All quite a change from Erich van Daniken who made a fine living claiming that the same inscriptions showed alien astronauts rather than aristocrats burning scraps of paper soaked in their own blood in the smoke of which they perceived dream visions of their ancestors and gods.
View all 7 comments. I visited the NE Yucatan three times in the s, devoting most of my time to hiking the coast and, with the help of young Maya, trekking overland to ruins they’d tell me of.
Una Selva de Reyes : La Asombrosa Historia de los Antiguos Mayas
Preparatory to these trips I’d read some of the literature, much of it dated. This then is one of the first books I’ve read which purports to be based on the recent decoding of Mayan script. Armed with this new insight, Schele and Freidel tell a number of stories, histories really, of several Mayan centers and the people w I visited the NE Yucatan three times in the s, devoting most of my time to hiking the coast and, with the help of young Maya, trekking overland to ruins they’d tell me of.
Armed with this new insight, Schele and Freidel tell a number of stories, histories really, of several Mayan centers and the people who dominated them. Frankly, given the ljnda they present confronting my ignoranceI am skeptical. Their accounts seem just a bit too certain, their qualifications too muted. Their approach approaches the novelistic–and indeed the whole is punctuated by little illuminating fictions.
I would have been more comfortable with a more cautious, scholarly approach, on the one hand, or a more purely novelistic one, on the other. On one point, though, they got me going, that being their repeated references to the vision quests through bloodletting.
Apparently the Maya would do stuff life putting stingray barbs through their penises and tongues in order to obtain visionary access to spiritual realms. In selvaa text itself the authors treat this as unremarkable, as though schel course, such painful practices induce altered states of consciousness’. Well, that made no sense, so I went through the footnotes, all of them and there are manyand found that there they amplified their descriptions by adducing pain, fasting and ‘intoxication’ as the causes of their visions.
Now that made it seem a bit more plausible, but still left me wondering what the intoxicating agent s might have been. That is nowhere addressed.
Personally, I find both Egyptian and Mayan art to be ‘trippy’. Both are very colorful, often as if self-illumined. Both delineate forms starkly. This is how things look to me–and to many others, from what I hear–under the influence. So, naturally, I wonder if it’s common to find oneself in pseudo-MesoAmerican environments simply because of the overweening influence of the writings of Carlos Castaneda et alia or, more intriguingly, if it’s because both we and our American or Egyptian ancestors took similar substances and had similar visions, visions which their cultures took seriously enough to represent in their art and religion.
I find it odd that the authors of this book didn’t address this matter at all. Dec 10, Kavita rated it liked it Shelves: The book started off very slowly and made some assumptions that only Westerners would be reading this book. I also found it hard to believe that rain dance of the Mayans worked and that historians must treat those customs with respect.
These things in the beginning almost made me give up on the book, but the later chapters became more and more professional and detailed. Once I had reached the middle of the book, I had a lot more respect for the author than at the beginning. Other than these mino The book started off very slowly and made some assumptions that only Westerners would be reading this book.
Other than these minor irritants, the book is very well written and presents a detailed account of both the archaeology and history of the ancient Mayan kingdoms from conception to decline. It works well as an introductory book to the world of Maya, but does not limit itself to just one period.
Instead, an overview of the entire Mayan history is meticulously given along with archaeological details. Plenty of pictures explaining the Stelas. Overall, a good book!
Mar 19, Jesse rated it it was amazing. View all 4 comments. Aug 10, Kyle rated it really liked it Shelves: This book is a great showcase of what we lost when the great Linda Schiele died. Though obviously the book is a bit outdated we just know more about the Maya, particularly their written languages, now than when this book was writtenit still holds surprising relevance to Mayan studies today.
This delva also does something very unique tha This book is a great showcase of what we lost when the great Linda Schiele scjele.
A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya
This book also does something very unique that few other history books are willing to do let alone Mayan ones ; this book provides fanciful story-style interpretations of historical events surrounding the various Mayan players like Kings. Some people may not like these short story excerpts as they are historical fiction, but I think they provide the reader with real connections and emotional investment with the historical figures presented in the “history book” portions of the book.
Overall, this is a great book for people interested in some of the major city states and kings of the ancient Maya, and though the information is outdated and the translations crude by today’s standard, it is still an enjoyable, educational, and accessible read for people of all backgrounds.
Given reyea this book assumes no previous knowledge and sometimes words things melodramatically, but packs its information pretty densely, I’m guessing that it’s intended as an introductory college textbook. The first chapter covers basics of pre-conquest Maya culture, and the unna chapter discusses the collapse of Classic civilization and a little about the European conquest.
In between, most chapters focus on a specific city: Cerros for the Pre-Classic rise of kingship and monumental architectu Given that this book assumes no previous knowledge and sometimes words things melodramatically, but packs its information pretty densely, I’m guessing that it’s intended as an introductory college textbook. So many then-ongoing discoveries and controversies appear in this book that it must be significantly out of date by now, more than 20 years after it was published.
Jan 19, Chris rated it really liked it. Co-written eeyes one of the most prominent Maya scholars of the 20th century, the late Linda Schele, this book examines the Lidna civilization through its linguistic legacy. Showing the processes which helped decipher a large amount of Mayan inscription, this book also describes their genealogical legacy as described through the Mayan stelae record.
Sep 12, Ryan rated it it was ok. Read ages ago on a trip to Honduras where I visited several Mayan sites. In general, reading about a place on a trip to the place usually reflects poorly on either the place or the literature. In this case, the literature suffered. Rejes there is a lot of human sacrifice to keep the story in the red. Oct 31, Bob Newman rated it it was amazing. Mayas come out of the woods When I was a youth, people said the Mayas were the one peaceful civilization.
As far as I knew, nobody could read their writing. The silence and emptiness of the land where once a great city had stood remained in my mind. More recently, I have read a few books about the Maya, especially Demarest’s “The Ancient Maya” about seven years back. I still feel that that vol Mayas come out of the woods Dr I was a youth, people said the Mayas were the one peaceful civilization.
I still feel that that volume is the best overall history. It combines intensive analysis of Maya art, the translated inscriptions, and good archaeological guesswork to give the reader a most intensive “experience” if I may call it that.
The book provides names and dates for a civilization that once seemed lost and mysterious. The Maya certainly were not a peaceful civilization. In fact, their array of small kingdoms engaged in constant warfare and human sacrifice. When they wrote, they mostly recorded royal linea, chronicled the passage of time, or boasted of their great victories. Schele and Freidel attempt to bring to life the events and personalities of the Maya world, from BC to the arrival of the Spanish. The myriad reproductions of the Maya drawings, writings, and city plans by several modern artists is phenomenal.
What a labor of love this book is! I would say that it is not an easy read, though the language is mostly jargon-free. It’s just the amount of detail which may overwhelm a reader who is not so familiar with the Maya or who doesn’t need every date, every name, and every symbol. The art work on any number of buildings is described and analyzed.
Their system of counting time is explained.