The ancient Maya were the only fully literate pre-Colombian people in the Americas. Superb scientists, they developed highly sophisticated mathematics and an intricate and accurate calendar system. Theirs was one of the few complex societies to emerge in and to adapt successfully to a tropical forest environment. Their architecture, sculpture, and painting were sophisticated and compellingly beautiful.
In this comprehensive survey, updated for this new edition, Henderson explores the entire Maya cultural tradition, from the earliest traces of settlement through the period of the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. His wide-ranging account treats diverse aspects of the Maya world, from religion and philosophy to the environments of the various Maya peoples, using deciphered Maya texts to reconstruct the ancient societies.