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New Book Reviews

By Brent Raynes

The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology
By James A. O’Kon, PE

New Page Books, a division of Career Press
220 West Parkway, Unit 12
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
2012, 320 pages, US $21.99
ISBN-13: 978-1-60163-207-4

Reviewed by Brent Raynes

The author, James O’Kon, is a professional structure engineer with decades of experience designing award-winning projects. He has traveled to more than 50 remote and ancient Mayan sites and spent four decades looking into Maya engineering feats. One of his major discoveries detailed in this book is something that archaeologists had missed completely in their more than a century of investigations at the ancient city of Yaxchilan in Mexico, and that was that a spectacular long span suspension bridge over the Usumacinta River had once existed at this site. In fact, when he first viewed the ancient ruins of this location from a dugout canoe, he remarked, “Hey, those two structures look like bridge piers. I think the Maya built a bridge across here,” to which an archaeologist sitting behind him retorted, “impossible.”

The author enlightens all of us about Maya engineering feats now and how they had built multistory buildings that weren’t exceeded in height until the first skyscraper built in Chicago in 1885. They even invented a blast furnace 2,000 year before it was patented in England. One enlightened archaeologist, Dr. Edwin Barnhart, director of the Maya Exploration Center, stated that this book had done what no other book had done previously, and that was put “Maya engineers shoulder to shoulder with the Romans or any other ancient culture one could compare them against.”

The Maya culture was made up of remarkable people capable of advanced mathematical problem solving, highly accurate astronomical observations, producing one of the world’s five original written languages. Their vocabulary didn’t get hung up on the word “impossible” like it does for some of our modern educated archaeologists.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023