The Maya Calendar - Nothing to do with the "2012 stuff" !!

par Philippe Potter-Moloch, dimanche 12 décembre 2010, 09:00 The Maya developed a sophisticated calendar. The ritual calendar that developed in Mesoamerica used a count of 260 days. This calendar gave each day a name, much like our days of the week. There were 20 day names, each represented by a unique symbol. The days were numbered

constructed circa 1050 was built during the late Mayan period. An Aztec calendar stone is shown above right. Yucatan. Mexico.michielb. the next day was numbered 1 again.html Among their other accomplishments. Because they could not use fractions.from 1 to 13. the kin represented one day. The pyramid was used as a calendar: four stairways. this system probably makes it easier for English speakers to pronounce the actual words. The Maya also counted 400-year periods called Baktuns. The Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichén Itzá. which adopted the mechanics of the calendar unaltered but changed the names of the days of the week and the months. In addition. 2 winals and 17 k'ins. In reality.2. [Special note: All names given here are in the new orthography developed by native Maya of Guatemala. The Maya also tracked a vague solar year in which they counted 365 days per year. . The 365-day year contained months were also given names. making a total of 365. Since there are 20 day names. As we will see later. the "quarter" day left over every year caused their calendar to drift with regard to the actual solar year. 12 tuns. The Tun was a year of 360 days and the K'atun was a time period of 20 years of 360 days each. equivalent to the number of days in a calendar year. then continues with Zero Wo. the K'atun ending was a special time period celebrated by the Maya. such as the Aztecs and the Toltec. so that the count goes Zero Pohp to 19 Pohp. the Maya used special glyphs to indicate time periods. 14 k'atuns. At right is the ancient Mayan Pyramid Chichen Itza. the ancient Mayas invented a calendar of remarkable accuracy and complexity. Their system is being accepted by many various organizations of Maya and similar forms of this orthography are being adopted by other Maya groups. The Maya used these time periods in a special day count which is now called the Long count. The 260-day or sacred count calendar was in use throughout Mesoamerica for centuries.14.17. Winals are periods of 20-days which we now call a month. after the count of thirteen was reached. the period of time which we call a decade. each with 91 steps and a platform at the top. numbers 0-19 before they changed. when Toltecs from Tula became politically powerful. The Maya calendar was adopted by the other Mesoamerican nations.12. Today a typical long count date is written thus: 9.nl/maya/calendar. http://www. probably before the beginning of writing. This represents 9 baktuns. Given the Maya propensity for words and language it is only a natural development. It has its parallel in the modern world.

200 days = approx. only the Haab has a direct relationship to the length of the year. Although they are not part of the Long Count.6 is the Long Count date. A typical Mayan date looks like this: 12. Of these. The following names are sometimes quoted. 3 Cimi is the Tzolkin date. Going from right to left the remaining components are: uinal (1 uinal = 20 kin = 20 days) tun (1 tun = 18 uinal = 360 days = approx.2. When did the Long Count Start? Logically.16. What is the Long Count? The Long Count is really a mixed base-20/base-18 representation of a number. The baktun are numbered from 1 to 13.880. 4 Zotz is the Haab date. 7885 years 1 calabtun = 20 pictun = 57. The uinal are numbered from 0 to 17.000 days = approx. 394 years) The kin.000 days = approx. the Long Count.600. 3 Cimi 4 Zotz.6. It is thus akin to the Julian Day Number.152.000. 12.000 days = approx. and the Haab (civil calendar). 1 year) katun (1 katun = 20 tun = 7.000.0.18. representing the number of days since the start of the Mayan era.16.2. The basic unit is the kin (day). 63 million years The alautun is probably the longest named period in any calendar. 158. 3 million years 1 alautun = 20 kinchiltun = 23.000 days = approx. although they are not ancient Maya terms: 1 pictun = 20 baktun = 2.040. and katun are numbered from 0 to 19. the first date in the Long Count should be 0. the Mayas had names for larger time spans. tun.The Maya calendar uses three different dating systems in parallel. the Tzolkin (divine calendar). but as the .000 years 1 kinchiltun = 20 calabtun = 1. which is the last component of the Long Count.000 days = approx. 20 years) baktun (1 baktun = 20 katun = 144.18.0.0.0.

While our calendar uses a single week of seven days.0. Cimi 7.0.0. This 260-day cycle also had good-luck or bad-luck associations connected with each day. Ben 14. Etznab 19. I have come across three possible equivalences: 13.0. Lamat 9. Akbal 4. Since the numbered and the named week were both "weeks.0 = 8 Sep 3114 BC (Julian) = 13 Aug 3114 BC (Gregorian) 13.0 may have been the Mayas’ idea of the date of the creation of the world. What is the Tzolkin? The Tzolkin date is a combination of two "week" lengths. if. Chicchan 6.0 on 21 or 23 December AD 2012 . it became known as the "divinatory year. . Chuen 12.0. Cib 17. Ix 15.0. it will be 10 Cimi instead of 3 Cimi.0. today must be Ahau. Oc 11.0. The date 13. The authorities disagree on what 13. 5 Lamat.baktun (the first component) are numbered from 1 to 13 rather than 0 to 12.0. Men 16.0. if it is 6.0. Muluc 10. Kan 5.0.0.0. The next time Cimi rolls around. but 4 Manik. in which the names of the days were: 0." The "years" of the Tzolkin calendar are not counted. for example. Caunac As the named week is 20 days and the smallest Long Count digit is 20 days.a not too distant future. the last digit of today’s Long Count is 0.0 = 6 Sep 3114 BC (Julian) = 11 Aug 3114 BC (Gregorian) 13.0 = 11 Nov 3374 BC (Julian) = 15 Oct 3374 BC (Gregorian) Assuming one of the first two equivalences. the Long Count will again reach 13. and the day after that. Ik 3. The next 3 Cimi will not occur until 260 (or 13 x 20) days have passed.0.0.0. Eb 13. the Mayan calendar used two different lengths of week: • a numbered week of 13 days. Caban 18. there is synchrony between the two.0. it must be Cimi.0.0 corresponds to in our calendar. the day after 3 Cimi is not 4 Cimi. Ahau 1. 20 days later. and for this reason. this first date is actually written 13.0.0. in which the days were numbered from 1 to 13 • a named week of 20 days. Imix 2." each of their name/number change daily. Manik 8. therefore.0.

Tzec 11. The days of the month were numbered from 0 to 19. so the day after 4 Zotz would be 5 Zotz. Among the Aztec.980. Chen 15. When the Pleaides crossed the . The authorities agree on this. The names of the month were: 1. Xul 12. Zip 9. the end of a Calendar Round was a time of public panic as it was thought the world might be coming to an end. Muan 4. Pop 7. known as Uayeb. centuries before it was discovered in Europe or Asia. Cumku In contrast to the Tzolkin dates. and the uses to which it could be put. for example.980 days or about 52 years later. Mol 14.0." the next day falling on "4 Ahau 8 Cumku" would be 18.. or 365×52." and were observed as days of prayer and mourning. Fires were extinguished and the population refrained from eating hot food. followed by 5 extra days. Ceh 18.0. This use of a 0th day of the month in a civil calendar is unique to the Maya system. the Haab month names changed every 20 days instead of daily. If a day is. Yaxkin 13. Kankin 3.0 corresponds to 4 Ahau. The Uayeb days acquired a very derogatory reputation for bad luck. It consisted of 18 "months" of 20 days each. Mac 2. followed by 6 Zotz . Zac 17. Uo 8. which is followed by 0 Tzec.. it is believed that the Mayas discovered the number zero. Anyone born on those days was "doomed to a miserable life. This gives a year length of 365 days. The smallest number that can be divided evenly by 260 and 365 is 18. The length of the Tzolkin year was 260 days and the length of the Haab year was 365 days. Kayab 6. up to 19 Zotz. Zotz 10. What is the Haab? The Haab was the civil calendar of the Mayas. Pax 5. Yax 16. "4 Ahau 8 Cumku. known as "days without names" or "days without souls.When did the Tzolkin Start? Long Count 13.0." The years of the Haab calendar are not counted. this was known as the Calendar Round.

1 Yaxkin was the day after the winter solstice.242036 days. for example. and in fact.600 by 365.101.C.0 days. The available evidence indicates that the Mayas estimated that a 365-day year precessed through all the seasons twice in 7.0. Did the Mayas Think a Year Was 365 Days? Although there were only 365 days in the Haab year.0. the Mayas were aware that a year is slightly longer than 365 days.0.0 days had corresponded to 2.0. Yaxkin. The Mayas estimated that a 365-day year precessed through all the seasons twice in 7.webexhibits.C. the Mayans had a tradition of a 360-day year.0.0. and 0 Yaxkin corresponded with Midwinter Day. But by the 4th century B.0.2425 days of the Gregorian calendar.0 corresponds to 8 Cumku. http://www. it was started at 7.E.101. When the Long Count was put into motion.600 days. They maintained three different calendars at the same time. The five-day period was considered to be unlucky. however. and taking that number and dividing 1.101. they divided a 365-day year into eighteen 20-day months followed by a five-day period that was part of no month.org/calendars/calendar-mayan. (This apparent accuracy could. subtracting 2.13.13. when the sun starts to shine for a longer period of time and higher in the sky. When did the Haab Start? Long Count 13.E.0.13.0.0. In one of them. The authorities agree on this.0 back in 3114 B. they took a different approach than either Europeans or Asians.html <3<3 Tabitha CountessTahbulla Potter-Moloch wrote : .001 cycles rather than 2 cycles of the 365-day year.0. These numbers are only accurate to 2-3 digits. be a simple coincidence. means "new or strong sun" and.horizon on 4 Ahau 8 Cumku. many of the monthnames are associated with the seasons.0. Suppose the 7.0. would the Mayas have noticed?) In ancient times.0. as it did at 13.600 by the result. which is slightly more accurate than the 365.13. they knew the world had been granted another 52-year extension. which gives us an answer of 365.0 or 1. at the beginning of the Long Count. We can therefore derive a value for the Mayan estimate of the year by dividing 1.0.

massacred by the dependent peasant. around 750 AD. There were three periods of Mayan history. the Pre-Classic 300BC-250AD. more probably. the Post Classic-after 900AD. 22). The most widely accepted of these theories on the collapse of the Mayan Civilization is a peasant revolt. The hierarchy of the Maya was completely dependent on slave labor." During the time of the Mayan Civilization. This extremely wasteful method created a lack of natural food for the local wildlife and forced migration and scattering.. the civilization dissolved because the nobles and priests did not know how to work the land. the priests and nobles were left to fend for themselves. Many mysteries have been shared and stories told about how this down fall occurred. and power then passed to the peasant leaders and small-town witch town" (Thompson. The Mayans also used a slash and burn method of clearing the forest in order to produce ground for crop growing. However. Peasant revolt and agriculture abuse are just a few of the possibilities that may have lead to the destruction of the city. but few in number. Soil exhaustion. the Mayan Civilization started to collapse. In conclusion. Previously dependent on the slaves and peasants. and. its territory stretched across what is now known as Mesoamerica and the Yucatan Peninsula. These higher classes were often rich in power and wealth. Classic Period 250AD-900AD. writing that "In city after city the ruling group was driven out or. and this lead to a lack of resources. Another accepted theory about the end of the civilization is that the Mayans abused their land in trying to produce agriculture. Miller suggests that at one point the oppressed Mayan workers all gave up their way of life and retreated into the Puter Jungle (Miller. Thompson agrees.. " . 105). water loss and erosion were some of the consequences to the Mayans' chosen agricultural techniques. yet not one can come to a distinct conclusion. The people of most power were nobles and priests. during the Post Classic period. All held significant events for the civilization.

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