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Maya Calendar Origins

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Maya Calendar Origins
Monuments, Mythistory, and the Materialization of Time. By Prudence M. Rice. (University of Texas Press, Austin: 2007. Pg. 296. 76 Line Drawings.) ISBN 13: 978-0-292-71692-6.

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - December 14, 2007

In Maya Calendar Origins: Monuments, Mythistory, and the Materialization of Time, Prudence M. Rice reexamines the role, use, history, and meaning of the Maya Calendar. Building upon existing assumptions, Rice takes a new tract in this reexamination, offering an innovative new approach to the study of the Maya Calendar, and by extension, totally reworking our understanding of this pivotal window in ancient Maya civilization, cosmology, and ideology.

In many regards, this book is a direct outgrowth of Rice's book, Maya Political Science: Time, Astronomy, and the Cosmos, in which she hypothesized that the Maya politico-religious structure was uniquely Mayan and that it was based upon the May, a 256-year calendar cycle. Expanding upon this earlier work, in Maya Calendar Origins, Rice looks at the two different calendars used by the Ancient Maya, one having a 260-day year, and the other a 365-day year. Using the most up-to-date archaeological, anthropological, astronomical, ethnohistorical, linguistical, and historical information now available, Rice shows that the Maya calender was developed years earlier than once thought, and she examines how the Maya calender developed over time. More important, she illustrates how the calender grew to take a central role in Maya political and religious structures and development. In the process, Rice examines how the Maya exported their calendars, and their corresponding cosmological and ideological implications, to other groups throughout the Mesoamerican heartland, including the Olmec and Izapan. Rice also examines the historical insights that Popol Vuh provides to the origins of the Maya Calendars.

Maya Calendar Origins is an insightful and thought-provoking book that will engender ample conversation among scholars interested in Maya and Mesoamerican history, politics, and social evolution. Filled with detailed drawings of various stelae, glyphs, artifacts, as well as charts and drawing of archaeological sites greatly enhance this already engrossing text. Maya Calendar Origins is essential reading for scholars in any field related to Mesoamerican studies. In addition, it is well suited for use in advance courses in Mesoamerican cosmology, archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, history, mythology, or ethnohistory.


Related Reviews:

Maya Political Science: Time, Astronomy, and the Cosmos, by Prudence M. Rice.
In this work, Rice expounds upon her theory that the Maya politico-religious structure was uniquely Mayan and based upon a 256-year calendar cycle called the may.

Popol Vuh: Sacred Book of the Ancient Maya, edited by Allen J. Christenson.
This electronic library and database serves as a comprehensive resource on the Popol Vuh, and it includes not only the original text of the Popol Vuh, but also English and Spanish translations of the text, along with audio files of native speakers reading the text, hundreds of photographs, and essays and notes on Maya culture, history, and language.

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