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Book Review: The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology by James A. O’Kon P.E.

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The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology by James A. O’Kon P.E. traces the evolution of Mayan culture and engineering over the centuries. Numerous schematics are depicted throughout the book to demonstrate how the Mayan mathematicians and scientists overcame extensive environmental challenges like frequent  flooding and droughts.

During the mid first millenium AD, the Mayan urban centers were the largest on the planet according to the author. The Mayan civilization had fifty city states with royalty, scribes, scientists and merchants. Mayan engineers developed efficient water management systems and overcame the shortfalls of the environment.

Clearly, the Mayan engineers understood technical engineering challenges like shear and overturning moment computations. The Mayan pyramids were
designed as a mathematical step function with rock ascending like a concrete stairwell. This design distributed the huge shear forces fractionally during great wind storms or flooding. A step function design is easier to access for repair purposes. Much of the Mayan engineering design technology is needed right now in places like Africa and Asia.

Mayans ate maize, beans, tomatoes, chili, squash, avocado and many other tropical fruits and vegetables loaded with antioxidants and good fats. The Mayan diet could be a model for Americans to emulate. The Mayan climate was alternating deluge and drought. Natural wells or cenotes provided the Mayans in the lowlands with direct access to water throughout the year.

The Mayan culture suffered apocalyptic environmental disasters after 910 AD. These disasters stultified growth. Modern researchers are still uncertain as to the exact reasons why the Mayan culture waned in influence from its zenith. Great earthquakes may be less probable because the two largest quakes were in Antioch, Syria and in Corinth, Greece during the first millenium AD.

A number of Mayan cities were reborn in the eleventh century. Many thousands of books were destroyed by overzealous conquistadors. Slowly but surely, elements of Mayan culture are being retrieved successfully by modern archeologists, scholars, local people and authors like James A. O’kon PE.

Mayan astrologers calculated the present five thousand two hundred year period to end on December 21, 2012. In each period of the Sun, there is an adjustment for the earth. Changes in the weather conditions, social and political life occur. The world is transformed. We enter a period of understanding and harmonious coexistence where there is social justice and equality for all. This portends a new way of life.

The book explains how Mayan engineers perfected the vaulted arch, high-rise structures, bridges, tunnels and a system of paved highways to move people and equipment. Elements of a developing urban civilization include large urban centers, monumental architecture, sophisticated art, crafts, writing, science, theater, commerce, the professions  and religious structures. Mayan writings even have traces of the Morse code embedded into the alphabet structure. i.e. dots and dashes

Mayans created superior tools with elements like obsidian which is harder than iron. Mayan architectural wonders include the Edzna Palace, the observatory at Chichen Itza, the Mayapan circular building, the facade at Kabah and the palace at Xtampak. These are all depicted by James A. O’kon PE in the book.

The chemical composition of cement differs from Portland cement. Mayan cement has more carbon, magnesium and calcium. The Mayan pyramid structure consists of a facade of concrete and decorative stones with fill material of clay, rubble and broken pottery. Mayan engineers were expert recyclers. Retaining walls confine the mass fill material. Sides are designed to take into account counterbalancing forces to withstand earth movements like small quakes.

The Lost Secrets of Maya Technology by James A. O’Kon P.E. is a wonderful engineering and historical resource for recapturing a time lost in history due to cataclysmic earth events and overzealous conquistadors of the past. Does the author succeed in recapturing the Mayan culture and civilization? Read the book and decide.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.