Ancient Mexico was one of the great independent hearths of civilization. Out ofvaried landscapes grew some of the richest cultures of the early historic world--Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Toltec, and Aztec. Standard histories tend to focus on the individual societies, but Jeremy Sabloff's popular study takes an original approach, emphasizing the unity of Mexican civilization. In a series of vignettes, Professor Sabloff describes what it would have been like to live during the heyday of Mexico's greatest cities. Through the eyes of astronomers and ballplayers, merchants and priests, we see the temples, palaces, and tombs of a civilization obsessed with ritual and death. But who built these cities and how do we know? Sabloff explains convincingly just why archaeologists believe in the indigenous origins of Mexican civilization. This updated and revised edition includes the latest findings at Monte Alban and other sites; incorporates discoveries at the Palenque tombs and breakthroughs in the decipherment of the Maya script; and draws on fresh readings of Aztec ethnohistorical sources. Throughout, the author reveals the new ideas and techniques revolutionizing archaeological fieldwork and shows how the latest evidence is being used to reconstruct a fuller picture of the past.
The perfect starting point for a tour of Mexican prehistory, this book takes one off the beaten track of chronology onto the side roads of past lifeways. In colorful vignettes, Sabloff depicts life as it might have been in the sites of San Lorenzo, Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, Palenque, and others, each at the time it flourished. Revealing at the end how the methodsof archaeology have permitted these glimpses of the past, he takes up the task of explaining why the many fanciful explanations of Mesoamerican prehistory (e.g., transoceanic voyages) are unlikely to be true. Recommended highly for general collections in libraries of all levels. History Book Club and Macmillan Book Club selections.-- William S. Dancey, Ohio State Univ., Columbus