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Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America (American Museum of Natural History) [Paperback]

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Item description for Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America (American Museum of Natural History) by Herbert Joseph Spinden...

From the archaic period, through the great Mayan civilization and the "Middle" civilizations of Olmecs, Toltecs and others, to the glory of the Aztecs, this classic study offers a comprehensive survey of the extent and variety of pre-Columbian civilizations in the New World. Profusely illustrated with 47 black-and-white plates, 86 text figures. New Introduction by Bruce E. Byland. Bibliography. Index, Map. Diagram of American Chronology.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   276
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1929
Publisher   Simon Publications
ISBN  1931313652  
ISBN13  9781931313650  

Availability  0 units.

More About Herbert Joseph Spinden

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Herbert Joseph Spinden was born in 1879 and died in 1967.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > Central America > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > Mexico
4Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > General
5Books > Subjects > History > World > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America (American Museum of Natural History)?

Spinden's Second Greatest  Jun 30, 2004
Some of Spinden's ideas have fallen by the wayside. The most notable idea is that the Classical Period dates from 300-600 AD rather than the 300-900 AD that is now accepted. The crux of this debate hinges upon correlations with the Maya Long Count calendar. To make a complex story short, the Mayans spanned their temple doorways with sopadilla wood beams which have been carbondated. The combination of correlations and carbon-dating prove the Classical Period lasted three more centuries than Spinden thought. (For more, see chapter 8 of Michael Coe's _The Maya_.)

Spinden also thought that the Mayan govt was largely theocratic (p 97). This idea has also fallen by the wayside especially since the further decipherment of the Mayan language. (To which Spinden contributed an insight or two. For example, after viewing a photograph from Piedras Negras, Spinden made the suggestion that inscriptions that began with bat heads
should be read "here follows a name." Decades later he turned out to right.)

In all honesty this is Herbert Spinden's second greatest book. His greatest was _The Study of Maya Art_ (pub in 1913) because in it Spinden gives the first art-historical treatment of the Maya. Readers will see that this book (orig pub in 1928) has much of the same to say as that former one. Though much has happened since this book was written, the art-historical treatment is still the strong point of this book. It is the through this lens that Spinden portrays the history and culture of the peoples who once lived in Mesoamerica.

A reprint of an outdated book  Aug 24, 2000
This book was first published in 1928. Since that time our understanding of ancient Mesoamerica has changed dramatically. This is a verbatim reprint of the original book, with a new introduction that sets Spinden and the book into historical context. If one is interested in the development of ideas about Mesoamerica in the early 20th century, this is a useful book. If one wants to find out about those civilizations, however, this is NOT the book to read. Many of Spinden's ideas were proven wrong in the 1930s; by 2000, the number of errors in the book is enormous. There has been much fieldwork, decipherment, and other research on these cultures in recent decades. Look for one of the many recent books about the Aztecs, Mayas, and other Mesoamerican civilizations. Dover should continue reprinting codices (the Codex Borgia and Codex Nuttall are great reprints!), and stay away from outdated textbooks.
A fine survey of pre-Columbian life and culture.  Mar 5, 2000
Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America is written by a curator expert on the topic and provides a concise, excellent history of the ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America. Any interested in early anthropology works will relish this fine survey of pre-Columbian life, essential to a beginning study of the region and its history.

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