Lost Maya Cities: Archaeological Quests in the Mexican Jungle

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Texas A&M University Press, 2020 - Biography & Autobiography - 324 pages

Hailed by The Guardian and other publications as "a real-life Indiana Jones," Slovenian archaeologist Ivan Sprajc has been mapping out previously unknown Mayan sites in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula since 1996. Most recently, he was credited with the discovery of the Chactún and Lagunita sites in 2013 and 2014, respectively, helping to fill in what was previously one of the largest voids in modern knowledge of the ancient Maya landscape: the 2,800-square-mile Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in central Yucatán.

Previously published in Sprajc's native Slovenian and in German, this thrilling account of machete-wielding jungle expeditions has garnered enthusiastic reviews for its depictions of the efforts, dangers, successes, and disappointments experienced as the explorer-scientist searches out and documents ancient ruins that have been lost to the jungle for centuries. A skilled communicator as well as an experienced scholar, Sprajc conveys in eminently accessible prose a wealth of information on various aspects of the Maya culture, which he has studied closely for decades.

The result is a deeply personal presentation of archaeological research on one of the most enigmatic civilizations of the ancient world. Generously illustrated, this book follows the chronology of Sprajc's discoveries, focusing on what he considers the most interesting episodes. Those who specialize in Mesoamerican prehistory and archaeology will certainly relish Sprajc's reports concerning his many field surveys and the discoveries that resulted. General readers, too, will enjoy his accounts of previously undocumented sites, ancient urban centers overtaken by the jungle, massive sculpted monuments, and mysterious hieroglyphic inscriptions.

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About the author (2020)

IVAN Sprajc is professor of archaeology at the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), Ljubljana, Slovenia. He has been directing archaeological work in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico since 1996

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