Tikal: The Center of the Maya World (Wonders of the World Series)


During the first millennium AD, one of the world's great civilizations appeared in the dense jungles of Mesoamerica. All over the Yucatan Peninsula, the Maya mastered sophisticated principles of mathematics, architecture, agriculture and astronomy and created scores of powerful city-states. At the center of this world was the largest city of them all — Tikal.

Sprawling over twenty-five square miles, Tikal was situated in the heart of the Yucatan, near rivers that flowed to every...

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During the first millennium AD, one of the world's great civilizations appeared in the dense jungles of Mesoamerica. All over the Yucatan Peninsula, the Maya mastered sophisticated principles of mathematics, architecture, agriculture and astronomy and created scores of powerful city-states. At the center of this world was the largest city of them all — Tikal.

Sprawling over twenty-five square miles, Tikal was situated in the heart of the Yucatan, near rivers that flowed to every corner of the Maya world. Tikal prospered from trade and military triumphs. Its rulers used its wealth to build a magnificent city of palaces, grand plazas and some of the largest stone pyramids seen in the Americas.

As with all great achievements of a civilization, Tikal is a window into the culture that created it. By telling the story of the city — from its humble beginnings, through its bloody wars, to its "golden age" — Tikal illuminates the Maya world in all its grandeur, glory and genius.

Wonders of the World series

The winner of numerous awards, this series is renowned for Elizabeth Mann's ability to convey adventure and excitement while revealing technical information in engaging and easily understood language. The illustrations are lavishly realistic and accurate in detail but do not ignore the human element. Outstanding in the genre, these books are sure to bring even the most indifferent young reader into the worlds of history, geography, and architecture.

"One of the ten best non-fiction series for young readers."
- Booklist

A history of the Maya Indians in the city of Tikal, founded in 800 B.C.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book Guide
Profusely illustrated with boldly colored paintings, the text discusses Mayan advances in math and language.
Booklist - Kay Weisman
Mann's narrative flows smoothly ... does not sugarcoat ... but also talks about the people's impressive accomplishments ... This will be welcomed by report writers.
Children's Literature
The history of this ancient Mayan civilization is brought to life. Tikal, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, was first settled in 800 B.C. and was abandoned for unknown reasons in 900 A.D. The city thrived due to its fortuitous location on a major trade route for Mesoamerica. The Mayans mastered sophisticated principles of mathematics, architecture, and astronomy as they created a prosperous kingdom in their jungle environment. Tikal's periods of glory and times of defeat are accurately related. Descriptions of the building of the great pyramids and marketplaces provide a sense of the grandeur of this ancient civilization. Some of the less desirable practices, such as human sacrifice and bloodletting, are also described. Colorful full-page and double-page illustrations contribute to the information presented. Appropriate photographs of ancient relics and of present-day Tikal add to understanding. 2002, Mikaya Press,
— Phyllis Kennemer
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-This lavishly illustrated volume presents information on this Mesoamerican city, which flourished from 800 B.C.E. to around A.D. 900. Beginning with a discussion of the city's location on the Yucatan Peninsula, the informative text delves into the economic implications of its site on the Holmul River. The history that follows covers pyramid and home construction in general, the role of religion in the life of both the metropolis and its inhabitants, and the position of the city as either a conquering or a conquered city-state. A discussion of the disappearance of the Mayan civilization, including Tikal, wraps up the volume. Full- and double-page illustrations, executed in watercolor, are detailed and provide a fascinating reconstruction of life more than 1000 years ago. Reproductions of both artifacts and stelae also serve to extend the text. A clearly labeled foldout of Tikal in its heyday can be compared to a double-page photograph of the site as it looks today, giving not only pictorial evidence of the passage of time, but also an idea of how reconstructions are done. This is a fascinating look at a civilization that disappeared both mysteriously and abruptly.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Despite plenty of recent archaeological and paleographical discoveries, ancient Mayan history and culture remain by and large great unknowns—a reality that forces even careful, reputable writers like Mann, author of the brilliant Brooklyn Bridge (1996) and other studies of great monuments, into generalizations and speculation. Here, she sketchily traces the 1,700-year career of a sprawling, strategically placed commercial center that apparently enjoyed centuries of prosperity until falling to an alliance of rivals, then rose again under a series of kings, of which little beyond major building projects and exotic-sounding names seems to be known, before suddenly, for no evident reason, being abandoned around 900 CE. For the illustrations, color photos of elaborately ornamented Mayan art, capped by a striking aerial view of Tikal’s pyramid-strewn Great Plaza today, are interspersed with sometimes uncaptioned painted scenes featuring generic figures laboring, shedding each other’s blood, or standing about to give the city’s magnificent buildings scale. Young readers will certainly come away with an appreciation for Tikal’s ruined splendors, but the art and narrative combine to communicate even more clearly a sense of how little we really know about this complex civilization. Still, a reading list would have been nice, especially considering the pace of new discoveries, and the availability of such engaging related titles as Laurie Coulter’s Secrets in Stone: All About Maya Hieroglyphs (2001). (map, timeline, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781931414050
  • Publisher: Mikaya Press
  • Publication date: 11/2/2002
  • Series: Wonders of the World Book Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,449,486
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.62 (w) x 9.84 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

This is Elizabeth Mann's eighth Wonder of the World Book, the award winning series cited by Booklist as one of the ten best nonfiction series for young readers.

Tom McNeely is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Association of Photographers and illustrators in Communications. He is the Illustrator of A Long and Uncertain Journey, a Booklist "Editor's Choice" as one of the best books for youth of 2001.

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