Friday, 20 January 2017

Mayan Civilization by Hourly History – Book Review

This is a review of the book on Mayan Civilization released by Hourly History. Many would have heard of them because of their calendar by which there was a widespread belief that the world would end by the end of 2012 (there was even a movie with the same theme) for the Mayan calendar did not have beyond December, 2012. Some others, including myself, would have heard of them because of Age of Empires.

For the rest, the Mayans were an ancient civilisation who inhabited much of the modern day Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and parts of Southern Mexico (north of which, I believe were the Aztecs). They are known for the complex pyramids and other structures that they constructed; the most notable being the Chichen Itza; a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from that, they are also noted for the sophisticated cities they built and their contributions to astronomy and number system.

The book touched upon all these aspects; starting with the origins of the civilisation and how they lived along with the other Mesoamerican civilisations. It then moved on to their first contact with Europeans (expeditions of Columbus) and eventually, the eventual conquest by Hernan Cortez. It also focused on the various traditions and how their rituals played a key part in maintaining order, be it in daily life or securing alliances or running a kingdom. The book also dispelled notions that the Mayans were a homogenous group of people and in fact, had various city states and internal strife and also the fact that war and human sacrifice (usually of the defeated) was critical to please their gods. It concluded with the attempts being made by present day North Americans to revive their traditions and form a hybrid Christian – Mayan culture.

I felt the book gave an excellent insight into the history but then, I also felt that it touched upon personalities who built the civilisations very little; for instance, when talking about Aztecs, one could immediately visualise Montezuma or Chuahtemoc and similarly, if there was some focus on Mayan personalities of the past, the book could have been better.

On the whole, I would award the book a seven on ten.

Rating – 7/10

Have a nice day,


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