by Linda Schele and Peter Matthews

Full Title: The Code of Kings, The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs

How different it is to walk through a ruined city when it has beome a historical place–to “read” a building and to know who looks out from a sculptured portrait. (P.13)

How to describe this book? It’s an interesting fusion of archeology, culture, linguistics, history, and art.

The book covers seven different sites. There are explanations of glyphs, architectural elements, orientation of the city in terms of Mayan cosmology, and rules of the ball game.

In terms of visuals, there are many black and white and full color shots of archaeological sites, A list of personal names of kings and nobles with descriptions, a pronunciation and spelling key, and a very cool Glossary of Gods and Supernaturals

Here’s a peek at the chapter listing:

  • Chapter 1 Pyramid Mountains and Plaza-Sea
  • Chapter 2 Tikal: Toh-Chak-Ich’ak’s Palace
  • Chapter 3 Palenque: Hanab-Pakal’s Tomb
  • Chapter 4 Copan: The Great Plaza of Waxaklahun-Ubah-K’awil
  • Chapter 5 Seibal: The K’atun-ending Commemoration of Ah-Bolon-Abta Wat’ul-Chatel
  • Chapter 6 Chich’en Itza: The Great Ballcourt
  • Chapter 7 Uxmal: The Nunnery Quadrangle of Chan-Cha-K’ak’nal-Ahaw
  • Chapter 8 Iximche’: The Capital of the Kaqchikel Maya

There are plenty of maps and a complete dateline of the book in chapter 1, too.

I think what I like best about this book is the style. The information is very valuable, but that isn’t what makes me read a book like this cover to cover. Cold hard facts can be rather boring. The casual conversational explanations with the occasional anecdote tossed in are what hold my attention throughout.

A great read and a fabulous book if you plan on going to any part of the Mayan world.