The Maya calendar in its final form probably dates from about the 1st century B. It is extremely accurate, and the calculations of Maya priests were so precise that their calendar correction is 10,th of a day more exact than the standard calendar the world uses today. Of all the ancient calendar systems, the Maya and other Mesoamerican systems are the most complex and intricate. They used day months, and had two calendar years: the day Sacred Round, or tzolkin , and the day Vague Year, or haab. These two calendars coincided every 52 years. The year period of time was called a "bundle" and meant the same to the Maya as our century does to us.
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The Maya calendar in its final form probably dates from about the 1st century B. It is extremely accurate, and the calculations of Maya priests were so precise that their calendar correction is 10,th of a day more exact than the standard calendar the world uses today. Of all the ancient calendar systems, the Maya and other Mesoamerican systems are the most complex and intricate.
They used day months, and had two calendar years: the day Sacred Round, or tzolkin , and the day Vague Year, or haab. These two calendars coincided every 52 years. The year period of time was called a "bundle" and meant the same to the Maya as our century does to us. The Sacred Round of days is composed of two smaller cycles: the numbers 1 through 13, coupled with 20 different day names.
Each of the day names is represented by a god who carries time across the sky, thus marking the passage of night and day.
Some of these are animal gods, such as Chuen the dog , and Ahau the eagle , and archaeologists have pointed out that the Maya sequence of animals can be matched in similar sequence to the lunar zodiacs of many East and Southeast Asian civilizations. Glyphs for two of the eighteen months of the Vague Year: Pop left and Zotz.
In the day tzolkin , time does not run along a line, but moves in a repeating circle similar to a spiral. The two cycles of 13 and 20 intermesh and are repeated without interruption.
Thus, the calendar would begin with 1 Imix, 2 Ik, 3 Akbal, and so on to 13 Ben, after which the cycle continues with 1 Ix, 2 Men, etc. This time the day Imix would be numbered 8 Imix, and the last day in this day cycle would be 13 Ahau. No one is certain how such an unusual calendar came into being. The day cycle may tie several celestial events together, including the configuration of Mars, appearances of Venus, or eclipse seasons.
It may even represent the interval between conception and birth of a human baby. The day calendar was used to determine important activities related to the gods and humans. It was used to name individuals, predict the future, decide on auspicious dates for battles, marriages, and so on.
Each single day had its omens and associations, and the inexorable march of the 20 days was like a perpetual fortune-telling machine, guiding the destinies of the Maya. The Vague Year or haab of days is similar to our modern calendar, consisting of 18 months of 20 days each, with an unlucky five-day period at the end. The secular calendar of days had to do primarily with the seasons and agriculture, and was based on the solar cycle. The unlucky five-day period was known as uayeb , and was considered an ominous time which could precipitate danger, death and bad luck.
The Maya solar new year is thought to have begun sometime in our present-day month of July, with the Maya month of Pop. The Maya day month always begins with the seating of the month, followed by days numbered 1 to 19, then the seating of the following month, and so on. This ties in with the Maya notion that each month influences the next. Thus, the Maya new year would start with 1 Pop, followed by 2 Pop, all the way through to 19 Pop, followed by the seating of the month of Uo, written as 0 Uo, then 1 Uo, 2 Uo, etc.
The linking of the tzolkin and the haab resulted in a longer cycle of 18, days, or approximately 52 solar years. The end of this year cycle was particularly feared, because it was believed to be a time when the world might come to an end and the sky might fall, if the gods were not satisfied with the way humanity had carried out its obligations.
The year cycle was inadequate, however, to measure the continual passage of time through the ages. Another calendar was thus devised, called the Long Count.
The Long Count was based on the following units of time: a kin one day ; a uinal a month of 20 kins ; a tun a year of kins or 18 uinals ; a katun 20 tuns ; a baktun 20 katuns , or years.
Larger units included the pictun , the calabtun , the kinchiltun and the analtun. Each analtun was equivalent to 64 million years. The Long Count starts from the beginning of the current creation cycle, and corresponds to the present age. The date of this creation is set at either B. This is the starting date for all subsequent counting - similar to our use of the birth of Christ as a starting point for modern historical dates.
To indicate a date, the Maya calendar used five figures in this order: baktun, katun, tun, uin, kin. This would be written as, for example: 9. This gives us a total of 1,, days approximately 3, solar years since the beginning of the last Creation, at the Maya calendar round position of 10 Chuen, 4 Kumku. This would be equivalent to a date sometime in our year A.
One of the most important roles of the calendar was not to fix dates accurately in time, however, but to correlate the actions of Maya rulers to historic and mythological events. The acts of gods performed in the days of myth were reenacted by Maya rulers, often on the anniversary of the original event - a date which was carefully calculated by Maya priests.
The calendar was also used to mark the time of past and future happenings. Some Maya monuments, for example, record the dates of events 90 million years ago, while others predict events that will take place 3, years into the future.
The calendar also predicted the future, as our astrological zodiac does. For example, the Maya believed that a person's birthday or day-sign determined their fate through life. The newborn child was thus connected with a particular god, and remained under that god's influence.
Some gods were more auspicious than others, and a child born under a well-wishing god was considered lucky. A child born under a less kind deity had to ensure throughout his or her life that the god was propitiated - especially during vulnerable periods like the unlucky uayeb of the solar year. Many scholars have wondered why the Maya calendar was so complex. In part, it was because Maya priests made all decisions about dates for sacred events and the agricultural cycle.
There was thus no need for the average person to understand the calendar, and it could be as elaborate as the priests wanted. The ancient Maya cycle still survives in southern Mexico and the Maya highlands, under the care of calendar priests who still keep the day count for divination and other shamanistic activities.
These priests juggled cycles of time and calculated when several of these cycles would coincide. Back to Exhibitions.
Maya Calendar Converter
All rights reserved. It's remotely possible the world will end in December But don't credit the ancient Maya calendar for predicting it, say experts on the Mesoamerican culture. Related pictures: " Doomsday Myths Debunked. It's true that the so-called long-count calendar—which spans roughly 5, years starting in B. That day brings to a close the 13th Bak'tun, an almost year period in the Maya long-count calendar. But rather than moving to the next Bak'tun, the calendar will reset at the end of the 13th cycle, akin to the way a s automobile would click over at mile 99,
How Does the Mayan Calendar Work?
The Maya calendar is a system of calendars used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and in many modern communities in the Guatemalan highlands,  Veracruz , Oaxaca and Chiapas , Mexico. The essentials of the Maya calendar are based upon a system which had been in common use throughout the region, dating back to at least the 5th century BCE. It shares many aspects with calendars employed by other earlier Mesoamerican civilizations, such as the Zapotec and Olmec and contemporary or later ones such as the Mixtec and Aztec calendars. By the Maya mythological tradition, as documented in Colonial Yucatec accounts and reconstructed from Late Classic and Postclassic inscriptions, the deity Itzamna is frequently credited with bringing the knowledge of the calendar system to the ancestral Maya, along with writing in general and other foundational aspects of Maya culture. The Maya calendar consists of several cycles or counts of different lengths. The Calendar Round is still in use by many groups in the Guatemalan highlands. A different calendar was used to track longer periods of time and for the inscription of calendar dates i.
Centered in the tropical lowlands of what is now Guatemala, the powerful Maya empire reached the peak of its influence around the sixth century A. Along with impressive stone monuments and elaborate cities, the lost Mesoamerican civilization left behind traces of its sophisticated calendar, which scholars have spent decades struggling to decipher. The first Mayan calendar, known as the Calendar Round, appears to have been based on two overlapping annual cycles: a day sacred year and a day secular year that named 18 months with 20 days each. Under this system, each day was assigned four pieces of identifying information: a day number and day name in the sacred calendar and a day number and month name in the secular calendar. Every 52 years counted as a single interval, or Calendar Round, and after each interval the calendar would reset itself like a clock.
Mayans Never Predicted December 2012 Apocalypse, Researchers Say
The Maya calendar is a system of three interlacing calendars and almanacs which was used by several cultures in Central America, most famously the Maya civilization. The media hype and hysteria that ensued was later termed the phenomenon. Of course, the predictions did not come true—just like hundreds of other doomsday prophecies that fizzled out in the past. The Mayan calendar dates back to at least the 5th century BCE and it is still in use in some Mayan communities today. However, even though the Mayans contributed to the further development of the calendar, they did not actually invent it. The same system was used by most cultures in pre-Columbian Central America—including those predating the Maya. The Mayan Calendar consists of three separate corresponding calendars: the Long Count , the Tzolkin divine calendar , and the Haab civil calendar.