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June 1983

The Smoking Gods: Tobacco in Mayan Art History and Religion

Arch Surg. 1983;118(6):776. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1983.01390060092028

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Most of us find it difficult enough to remain current in our primary profession of surgery, much less allow time for more than dabbling in the fields we choose as hobbies. Francis Robicsek, the well-known cardiac surgeon from Charlotte, NC, however, somehow manages also to be a world-class archeologist and scholar of the Mayan civilization. In this, his third major book on the Mayans, this surgeon traces what must be every conceivable reference to tobacco smoking in the historic record of this amazing Central American civilization. Most of his data comes from inscriptions on artifacts and sculpture that have been conveniently computerized for reference. He provides what is almost a personal smoking history of the various Mayan gods, and there were a lot of them. Every man with a cigar depicted on a Mayan vase is mentioned.

But this book is much more than a catalogue or dry scholar's report.

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