Early in their civilization, the Maya emerged as undisputed masters of astronomy, chronology, the recording of history, and mathematics. By A.D. 300 they had developed a system of hieroglyphic writing, a calendar, and the first major works of stone architecture. Their architecture was extraordinary in its marriage of astronomical, religious, civic, and engineering considerations and ideas. The Maya also excelled in decorative motifs, reliefs, and freestanding sculpture. Their painting in codices and wall frescoes and their ceramic designs are astonishing. At the height of the Maya civilization, the empire comprised lands that are now in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize.This unprecedented volume offers the most comprehensive view to date of the Maya civilization. More than thirty international scholars write on such themes as the mysterious religious myths and beliefs of the Maya, political organization, navigation and commerce, and all aspects of the culture's artistic and scientific expressions.