1913 · Cambridge
by SPINDEN, Herbert J.
Cambridge: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology. 1913. Based on Spinden's 1909 doctoral thesis at Harvard and here Published as Volume VI of the Peabody Museum's Memoirs, this is the seminal study of Maya art and archaeology. Spinden was the first to study the range of Maya art, delineate its subject matter, and identify themes and motifs within the art and architecture of Maya society, including religious and philosophical ideas and calendrical notations. Probably the most important single volume ever published on the Maya. This copy is rebound in green buckram, and extra-annotated and illustrated in at least two hands. A (bookseller's?) note on the front free endpaper suggests the possibility that the annotations were those of the author, and indeed many of them seem to be of the type that an author would do if he were preparing a revised edition of his book. Some of the annotations correct errors in the earlier text, while others add new drawings, commentary or analysis, presumably based on information not available at the time of original publication. No revised edition of A Study of Maya Art was ever produced, however, so there is no corrected or updated text against which to compare this. Spinden, after gaining his PhD at Harvard, became the Assistant Curator of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and from there went on to become the Curator of Mexican Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard's Peabody Museum, perhaps the most prestigious post in the country for a Mayanist. Spinden also developed a widely accepted correlation between the Maya calendar and the Western calendar, which was called into question by J. Eric S. Thompson, the British Mayanist. The controversy got heated, and Spinden spent much of the rest of his time devoted to the Maya defending his correlation. It may be this controversy that pre-empted a new edition of his classic study. Thompson's correlation, or one or two days off from it -- Spinden's and Thompson's were 260 years apart -- is widely accepted today, although the issue is not without controversy even now. In any case, this is an extra-annotated copy of the first important work of Maya scholarship and, by all appearances, a unique copy. A bit of wear to the edges of the cloth, overall near fine. Near Fine. (Inventory #: 029130)