Cover of The Ancient Maya by Robert J. Sharer
The Ancient Maya
Fifth Edition
Robert J. Sharer


928 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804721301



The rich findings of recent exploration and research are incorporated in this completely revised and greatly expanded edition of the standard work on the New World's most brilliant civilization—that of the Maya people of northern Central America and southern Mexico.

From its shadowy beginnings centuries before Christ, the history of the Maya is traced through its periods of cultural growth, mysterious decline, renewed prosperity, and eventual downfall following the Spanish Conquest. Ever since the awesome remains of this civilization, which spanned some 2,000 years, were discovered in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the ancient Maya have attracted widespread fascination. Where had this civilization come from? How could the Maya have sustained themselves so successfully in such an inhospitable environment? What catastrophes had overwhelmed their long-abandoned cities? Today, scientific research in a variety of disciplines has made considerable progress in answering such questions.

Still, the allure of the Maya persists. Part of this fascination undoubtedly derives from the romantic image of a "lost civilization" that left scores of ruined cities deep in the jungle. But the more we learn of the Maya, the deeper becomes our respect and admiration. For these were a people of astonishing achievement: in mathematics, astronomy, calendrics, an writing systems; in technology, political organization, an commerce; and in sculpture, painting, and architecture.

Because of the veritable explosion of research on the Maya in recent years, we are for the first time beginning to understand the origins of the civilization and the reasons for both its flowering and its decline. New field discoveries, new technical advances, new successes in the decipherment of Maya writing, and new theoretical perspectives on the Maya past have made necessary this present edition of The Ancient Maya, which is more than one-fourth longer than the previous edition.

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"As readable as it is comprehensive, this volume is an admirable and up-to-date account of the ancient Maya."

Scientific American

"The most comprehensive and most lavishly illustrated book on its subject."

Journal of Latin American Studies

"This is the most comprehensive and best-illustrated book on one of pre-Columbian America's richest civilizations."

New Scientist

"The Ancient Maya has become the standard text on the study of Mayan culture and prehistory. Given the veritable explosion of research on the Maya, greater understanding of this past—yet living—culture has been realized."

Colonial Latin American Historical Review

"The Ancient Maya is appropriate to scholars, graduate students and upper-level undergraduates (and perhaps lower-level undergraduates in a semester-long course exclusively on Maya civilization."

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