Yucatan before and after the conquest

by Diego de Landa

Paper Book, 1978



Call number

F1435 .L3413 1978


New York : Dover Publications, 1978.


Only significant account done of Yucatan in post-Conquest era. Describes geography and natural history of the peninsula, gives brief history of Mayan life, discusses Spanish conquest and its effects, and provides a long summary of Maya civilization. Translator William Gates has added appendices, 4 maps, and over 120 illustrations.

User reviews

LibraryThing member antiquary
Actually a 1937 English translation, with rather leftist comments about the Spanish Civil War (pro-Republican) and the Cardenas administration in Mexico (pro). Very interesting source, including not only Landa's very famous explanation of the Maya writing system (which eventually was the starting
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point for Knosorov's decipherment) and--what i did not know till I read it --a very detailed account of the Mayan "sacred year" with what festivals were celebrated each month, as well as general observations --often favorable --on Mayan life in general. As the translator comments, there is only one paragraph on Landa's notorious (and arguably illegal) autos de fe which brutally persecuted many Maya for alleged relapses into paganism and also destroyed many potentially valuable Maya texts. However, this edition supplements Landa's account with other documents (some from the Maya themselves) giving more context on Landa's activities. Very interesting read in tandem with Clendinnen's Ambivalent Conquest which provides a modern interpretation of the same events (and more Maya documents). I give this 5 stars as an important source, though probably it would rate 4 or less subtracting for Landa's bias.
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LibraryThing member Larxol
Interesting first-hand study of Maya culture written by Diego de Landa, a Franciscan monk, in 1566. Four years earlier, he collected all the written records of that culture and burned them as "heretical writings."
LibraryThing member bjeans
I'm sure translating a text from the 16th century is not an easy task, however, the clunky translation was a bit confusing and sometimes even comical. I guess you take what you can get since Landa destroyed most of Mayan texts and tablets.
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
This book is a curious artifact. William Gates has translated it from the original Spanish, and added to de Landa's work, a collection of documents. De Landa, once Friar General of the Franciscan missionary effort in the Yucatan, was tried in Spain after his original stint in the area. His book
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does contain some special pleading, but is the pioneering work in the field of Mayan ethnography. The additional documents, as well as relating the particulars of the charges against him, also inform the reader about the first thirty years of Spanish activity in the area, and the vicious side of the Spanish Imperial policy in the New world. It is a good book with which to begin one's acquaintance with the Empire, and the area.
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Original publication date


Physical description

xv, 162 p.; 22 cm


0486236226 / 9780486236223



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