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Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed

Narrated by: Edwin Barnhart
Length: 23 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.8 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Centuries ago, Spanish conquistadors searching for gold and new lands encountered a group of independent city-states in Mesoamerica. Sophisticated beyond the Spaniards' wildest imaginings, these people were the Aztecs, the Maya, and related cultures that shared common traditions of religion, government, the arts, engineering, and trade. In many ways more advanced than European nations, these societies equaled the world's greatest civilizations of their time.

Immerse yourself in this epic story with 48 exhilarating half-hour lectures that cover the scope of Mesoamerican history and culture. You'll focus mainly on the Maya, who have been in Mesoamerica for thousands of years, and the Aztecs, who mysteriously appeared late and rose swiftly to power. The Aztecs fell from power just as precipitously; their empire controlled the region for less than a century, until the arrival of the Spanish in the early 1500s. Why were the Aztecs so quickly defeated by the conquistadors, while the Maya resisted the invaders for generations?

Although the Spanish eventually conquered all of Mesoamerica, much remains of the original cultures. Beautiful artifacts fill museums. Impressive ruins dot the landscape. And millions of descendants of ancient Mesoamericans still live in their ancestral homes, speaking native languages and practicing time-honored traditions. The countries from Mexico to Costa Rica include more than a dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites related to the pre-Columbian period, plus scores of other ancient sites that are equally worth a visit. This course is the ideal way to plan an itinerary, prepare for a tour, or simply sit back and enjoy a thrilling virtual voyage. You will be surprised at the number of sites to explore - many more than you could possibly see in months of travel. Your guide is Professor Barnhart, a noted archaeologist whose exploits include the discovery of a lost Maya city.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed

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Satisfying, tantalizing and curiosity igniting

This course is an excellent source of information about Mesoamerican history and archaeology. If you have ever been to any part of the Mexica, Olmeca, Zapoteco or Maya lands, if you have met the wonderful peoples who inhabit this part of the world today, if you have been to any of the ruin sites, if you are fascinated by the ancient stories of this land and the living traditions... or if you just dream about coming here, then you will love this course. These lectures make me feel like an archaeologist myself, they communicate so much wonder, enthusiasm and curiosity. I enjoyed the professor's easy going and humourous and professional style. And it ends on such an inspiring note of endless discovery. Thank you very much!

2 people found this helpful

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Great Overview and Modern Perspective

He is a lecturer, and these are done as lectures, that is where the performance suffers a little, I also found his pace excruciatingly slow but of course you can always speed it up. But that's the only bad part! An excellent survey of mesoamerican indigenous studies, Dr Barnhart choses to focus on the people of Mesoamerica rather than the people who unveiled it. Tackling each subject from a variety of angles, and forthcoming about his own biases, it was interesting, honest and comprehensive from start to finish,.. well as comprehensive as 6000 yrs of history can be in compact into 23 hours. I certainly recommend this listening!

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Very informative

This lecture was excellent and I enjoyed it a lot. My only issue was information was out of chronological order at times so it made it more difficult to follow.

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lots to learn here

somewhat repetitive ,overly interesting,a fascinating look into mid american history.Edie B. owes the world a follow up once li dar points out his next target for survey ,and enlighten us once more.

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Great course!

I really enjoyed this. A very thorough and impartial look at all the cultures that preceded ours in South & Central America.

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Informative and awesome #Audible1

I listened to this course before I spent a month in Mexico City. I also listened to it as I went threw the Mexico City anthropology museum. Can’t really find words for how much richer my experience was. Worth the listen! #Audible1

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comments on the book

God's God's twisted sense of justice send a group of thugs from another part of the world to destroy another set of thugs.I've been reading a lot I've been reading a lot of history not reading listening to a lot of history. and history and history sees to repeat itself a lot what comes around goes around. it is really it is really sad when all the history is Burke thrown away destroyed because insecurity of their own beliefs.what generally goes on what generally what goes on one side of the world happens on the other side of the world at different times in the history like the Egyptians did to the Jewish mass murder and the Germans mass murder Soviets mass murder of their own people Chinese Japanese anybody who's got power against other people. when people have absolute power is no end to sickness. lot of other things I could say but I'm running out of words off the top of my head

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Good course with some structural issues

Professor Barnhart presents some fascinating information about one of the least understood areas of the world. His passion for his subject is evident and that keeps the listener engaged. unfortunately, I found that much of the information in this course is easily forgettable. As someone who is rather ignorant about Maya and Aztec history, I did not feel that this lecture supported my learning well. Often, Barnhart goes through the information once, but there is little to no reinforcement of that information.

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tedious

I'm interested in this topic but it's just too much detail, and not very interesting detail. Too much math for one thing. I appreciate that it might be hard to find a human side to ancient cultures but this really fails at that.

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are insightful look into a bygone era

the information was so detailed, and each lecture so well thought out. I learned so much about the Mayan and Aztec people, going back a few thousand years right up until today. and with all of the cities mentioned in Mexico, it makes me want to go and discover them myself.

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  • Richard
  • 2016-01-22

Great Presentation and a Wonderful Narrator

Where does Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I would say this book ranks among my top 3 for non-fiction content. It's possibly ranked 1st in regards to presentation and narration by Professor Edwin Barnhart. I would have to say that Dr. Barnhart's narration has been the most enjoyable I've heard yet among the Great Courses. The only other narrator I've enjoyed listening to on this level has been Will Patton. The lack of slurps, burps, "ah's and uh's", hard mouth candy, vocal fry, and "sing song" speaking has been refreshing.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There's no particular favorite. I've enjoyed the entire presentation.

Which scene was your favorite?

I've enjoyed all of the chapters. Having traveled Central America and visiting several of the sites mentioned in his lecture, I've been inspired to plan another trip to the area after gaining another level of appreciation for the Mayan artifact's that we can so easily stroll through today thanks to the efforts of men and women such as Professor Barnhart.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I can't say enough how pleased I've been with the overall presentation and content of this lecture. I look forward to purchasing the other lecture that is available here on Audible from Professor Edwin Barnhart.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Cat Morgan
  • 2016-04-20

Fantastic, Engrossing & Informative

This is a beautifully written book; I learned a great deal from it. Be aware that it's not for beginners; I was grateful for my background in Mesoamerican studies.

The narrator was superb; he helped me a great deal with my pronunciation.

If this type of history sings to you, definitely try this book

17 people found this helpful

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  • Lee J. Pelletier
  • 2016-05-27

WOW! I learned SO MUCH!

Where does Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This course is tops for how much I learned, right after the course on Ancient Egypt which is also excellent.

What did you like best about this story?

Between kindergarten, grade school, high school, and college I have 17 years of schooling plus lots of post-graduate learning. And during all those years, I learned NOTHING about the ancient America's. So little, in fact, that I was really interested in learning about the Inca. I saw the title and thought this would include information about the Inca. Nope.

I had to laugh at my own naivete. The very fact that I made that mistake meant that I very much needed this course. I knew NOTHING about Mesoamerica. All that schooling, and even though I live in the America's, we never once in all those years discussed anything substantive about ancient America. It's a travesty of our educational system.

But this course set things right.

Any additional comments?

This is a fun and enjoyable course. But it is not an easy course. I found it very difficult to keep track of the names of places and people because they were so strange to me. So just be forewarned that you will really need to pay attention to names. It helps to have a map so you can find these places and have a better idea of how everything fits together.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Mike Dowling
  • 2015-03-22

Everything you would ever want and more

What did you love best about Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed?

Professor Barnhart in an expert and the research is up to date as of the spring of 2015. As with any Audible purchase of Great Courses material, you suffer from not having a study guide.

Professor Barnhart is engaging and easy to listen to. His personal stories and background in the field add color to his presentation. I did find myself fading away at times because he does take you deep into the weeds of every topic. His enthusiasm for the topic is infectious and brings to mind Bob Brier’s amazing “History of Ancient Egypt.”

These lectures are not designed for people with only a passing interest in the topic, but if your study of the word has neglected Mesoamerica, this is the definitive listening experience.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 2016-03-07

I'm obsessed with Central America

I always have been. From the Ancient Mayans...Jaguars.....the pyramids...the Caribbean...the Pirates....modern Mexican culture...the food...etc. The whole nine yards. This epic lecture series has reawakened my passion for understanding the mystery and rich cultural life of this place. I can't wait to learn more. I recently visited Mexico for the first time at Tulum and also climbed a pyramid at Coba. It was incredible. If you're really into this stuff like me you'll enjoy this thorough look into the lives of the pre-Colombian Meso American people.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Martin Fierro
  • 2015-08-30

Excellent Treatment of Panorama of Mesoamerica

I have listened several times, as preparation make a trip more meaningful.

Couldn't recommend it more enthusiastically.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2015-04-04

A thorough time travel with an enthusiastic guide

This is, no doubt, a great listen. It's clear that Prof. Barnhart knows, feels and loves Mesoamerica, a subject that has always fascinated me.
I feel some more storytelling would be welcome, though... May be I'll listen to it again...
I would suggest to attach some pdf maps. There are so many names, so many different places and connections that sometimes it becomes a bit hard to follow.
Anyway, it is inspiring to know that there's so much yet to be found... and it makes me want to go to Mexico again.

7 people found this helpful

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  • K.D. Keenan
  • 2016-11-21

Fascinating and Anything But Dry

The course is roughly chronological, with deeper forays into topics such as Maya mathematics or Aztec art. I learned a TON, even though I know there's far more to learn. I have always been confused about the relationship between various Mesa-American groups, and that's a lot clearer to me now. The presenter takes many side trips into interesting theories and discoveries and is very entertaining.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Munster Monster
  • 2016-03-22

Walk With the Ancient Mayans with Prof. Barnhart

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I listened to these lectures in preparation for a vacation to the Yucatan. Professor Barnhart transmits his own wonder over the Mayas to the listener. He relates the history with proper reference to the primary historical record, discusses where there is some uncertainty, and inviting the listener to join in the academic exploration. By the end of the series, you might be tempted to pick up a shovel and join him on an archaeological dig.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Maya to Aztec: Ancient Mesoamerica Revealed?

The discussion of Mayan mathematics and calendar revealed how incredibly advanced the Mayans were in these areas. It demonstrated how knowledge burgeoned in the New World, in parallel with the Eastern world.

6 people found this helpful

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  • horoscopy
  • 2016-05-30

the professor sounds like Bill Gates

Is there anything you would change about this book?

it is just too scientifically speculative and the professor sounds like he is giving too much scientific speculation that he assumes as fact. and is technology/ scienc interested more than historically , culturally interested

4 people found this helpful