A Book Review by: Joaquin J. Rodriguez III, PE, SECB:
The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology
by James O’Kon, PE
I must admit that when I was given for review James O’Kon’s book, The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology, I was thrilled. As a structural engineer with other degrees in Chemistry and Physics, I was looking forward to a book written by a fellow engineer. I had read other articles by Mr. O’Kon, particularly his theory of the suspension bridge at Yaxchilan, and was looking forward to further data from him.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book on a very important subject written by a highly qualified engineer with the right expertise to cover this matter. It is well researched and simply written. The excellent photography, helpful diagrams and graphic reconstructions add to the understanding of the subject. Although the core of the 390-page book is technology, “Lost Secrets” is anything but dry or complicated. The author takes the reader by the hand and guides him on a path of all things Maya to introduce him to the different technologies that made the Maya world the high civilization that it was.
From astronomy, through math, writing and calendrics to building materials, tools, agriculture, roads and navigation, the author covers most technological development of the Maya in detail.
Absent, unfortunately, are the subjects of weaponry and textiles – both extremely important for human endeavor. Some of his conclusions may be debatable, such as the actual chemical behavior of Maya cements (particularly in view of the conclusions of the reports this author quotes).
Whether you agree one-hundred percent with his conclusions or not, Lost Secrets of Maya Technology is a must read for any serious student of the Maya Civilization and a welcomed addition to the corpus of the literature on the subject.
Additional pictures and information appeared in the Book Review in the November 2012 IMS Explorer. Click on the image to open a PDF version of the Book Review: