Mystery of the Maya: Uncovering the Lost City of Palenque
Boyds Mills Press, 2001
ISBN 978-1590784754
Look for this book at your favorite library or used bookstore.
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  The Mystery of the Maya: Uncovering the Lost City of Palenque
written by Peter Lourie

The ancient Maya created one of the greatest civilizations of the New World. They built more than fifty powerful city-states during the Classic period, which lasted for six hundred years. Then, around A.D. 900, the Maya mysteriously abandoned their cities and temples. Even today scientists cannot fully explain their disappearance.

Peter Lourie, author of the acclaimed Lost Treasure of the Inca, now takes readers to the heart of the Mexican jungle to explore the secrets of the Maya ruins. In the ancient city of Palenque, he encounters moths as big as bats, monkeys that roar like lions, and a venomous snake whose bite is an almost certian death sentence. He meets archaeologists who have recently unearthed the throne of one of the last kings of Palenque, and he explores unexcavated ruins swallowed by jungle a thousand years ago. 

Finally, readers come to understand that today's six million descendants of the ancient Maya might well hold the key to the history of their ancestors. The Mystery of the Maya explores one of the greatest mysteries of all time, and shows how the ancients still weave their spell upon the present.

Behind the Book


“The author came to my school and gave a book talk, and this book looked exciting so I bought it. It was what most books aren't: Educational AND exciting. That's what made it very enjoyable. The Mystery of the Maya: the Lost City of Palenque doesn't just tell you facts, the author is on an adventure and writes it sort of as if he is writing a journal along the way. It makes you feel like you're there. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who's hungry for fun!” (a kid’s opinion,

“Lourie, best known for his present-day treks into the past, is in southern Mexico this time, working with a team of archaeologists at the Mayan city of Palenque. His zest for adventure comes through in his writing, whether he is detailing the work of the archaeologists, recounting the history of the Maya, or describing jungle sights and sounds. He captures the excitement of the dig through a satisfying blend of all of these elements along with many colorful photos of the ruins, landscape, and native people. … Lourie's experience at Palenque reflects the realistic pace of archaeology as it slowly, steadily uncovers the past and shapes our understanding of ancient history. The design is open, with clear type and photos on each page. Readers are sure to use this book as a jumping-off point for further exploration of Mayan culture.” (Booklist)

“The beauty of the scenery, the mysteries of the Maya, and the dangers of the jungle combine to make this a fascinating story of discovery. Lourie's visit to Palenque, an ancient Maya city in Mexico near the Guatemalan border, is described in informative and episodic text and wonderful photographs. Not only does he detail the work of the excavators and the mapping crew, but he also tells of the archaeological history of Palenque, relates some of the history and beliefs of the Maya people, journeys to a nearby village of modern Maya people, and relates his conversations with Moises, a native with a profound spiritual connection with the Maya. … The text is broken into small pieces and engages the reader in the adventure that is archaeology.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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