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The Maya Civilization

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Maya civilization in central America, from consolidation of power in the great cities after AD250 to their abandonment by the 16th century.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Maya Civilization, developed by the Maya people, which flourished in central America from around 250 AD in great cities such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal with advances in mathematics, architecture and astronomy. Long before the Spanish Conquest in the 16th Century, major cities had been abandoned for reasons unknown, although there are many theories including overpopulation and changing climate. The hundreds of Maya sites across Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico raise intriguing questions about one of the world's great pre-industrial civilizations.


Elizabeth Graham
Professor of Mesoamerican Archaeology at University College London

Matthew Restall
Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Latin American History and Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University


Benjamin Vis
Eastern ARC Research Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Kent

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

47 minutes

Last on

Thu 10 Mar 2016 21:30


Elizabeth Graham at University College London

Matthew Restall at Pennsylvania State University

Benjamin Vis at the University of Kent

Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies

Ancient Americas - Los Angeles County Museum

Mesoweb – An Exploration of Mesoamerican Cultures     

Maya Decipherment – Ideas on Ancient Maya Writing and Iconography

Lamanai Archaeology Project

‘Lidar technology shines a light on hidden sites’ – BBC Future

‘Into the light: how lidar is replacing radar as the archaeologist’s map tool of choice’ – The Guardian

Maya civilization - Wikipedia



Inga Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570 (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Michael D. Coe, Breaking the Maya Code (Thames & Hudson, 2011)

Michael D. Coe and Stephen Houston, The Maya (Thames & Hudson, 2015)

Elizabeth Graham, Maya Christians and Their Churches in Sixteenth-Century Belize (University Press of Florida, 2011)

Nikolai Grube, Maya: Divine Kings of the Rainforest (H. F. Ullmann Publishing, 2012)

Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya (Thames & Hudson, 2008)

Mary Ellen Miller and Megan E. O'Neil, Maya Art and Architecture (Thames & Hudson, 2014)

Matthew Restall, The Maya World: Yucatec culture and society, 1550-1850 (Stanford University Press, 1997)

Matthew Restall, Maya Conquistador (Beacon Press, 1998)

Matthew Restall, Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest (Oxford University Press, 2003)

Matthew Restall and Amara Solari, 2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011)

Robert J. Sharer and Loa P. Traxler, The Ancient Maya (Stanford University Press, 2005)

Andrea Stone and Marc Zender, Reading Maya Art: A Hieroglyphic guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture (Thames & Hudson, 2011)

David Webster, The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse (Thames & Hudson, 2002)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Elizabeth Graham
Interviewed Guest Matthew Restall
Interviewed Guest Benjamin Vis
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 10 Mar 2016 09:00
  • Thu 10 Mar 2016 21:30

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