Looking for a view of Maya technology that does not concentrate on absurd interpretations of calendars and December 21, 2012? If so, James O'Kon's The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology belongs on your bookshelf. The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology is the culmination of civil engineer James O'Kon's lifelong passion for studying the Maya and their technological advances, with information from four decades of study and fifty visits to remote Maya sites seamlessly brought together in this book.
O'kon steers clear of any connection between the Maya and 2012-related conspiracies and doomsday prophecies, instead using the space to give the reader a better knowledge of the engineering feats and the political science behind the Maya civilization.
One of my favorite parts of the book is O'Kon's discussion of water purification technology used by the Maya, particular filters found in the city of Chichen Itza, in the modern Mexican state of Yucatán. The Maya collected rain water in chultunes, underground reservoirs filled with water during the rainy season for use in the dry season. Hollowed out, porous limestone vessels filtered reservoir water using gravity, with 1-2 liters cleansed through this simple purification system within an hour.
O'kon argues the Maya excelled by using modified human labor over animal labor for brute force movement of supplies, as humans ate considerably less food than animals when considering the amount of work they could perform. To amplify the carrying capacity of human workers, the Maya used a tension-based system, the tumpline (similar in design to to a backpack used in mountain climbing), to distributes mass evenly over the frame of the human body.
Dotted with drawings explaining the engineering feats of the Maya along with color pictures of remote areas taken by O'Kon during his many expeditions. If you would like a taste of O'Kon's thought process before picking up the book (available at Amazon or directly through New Page Books), you can view some of O'kon's personal research at theoldexporer.com.