The Mayan Calender System Essay Research Paper

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The Mayan Calender System Essay, Research Paper The Maya Calendar The Maya calendar in its final form probably dates from about the 1st century B.C. It is extremely accurate, and the calculations of Maya priests were so precise that their calendar correction is 10,000th of a day more exact than the standard calendar we use today. They used 20-day months, and had two calendar years: the 260-day Sacred Round, or tzolkin, and the 365-day Vague Year, or haab. These two calendars coincided every 52 years. The 52-year period of time was called a “bundle”and was the same to the Maya as our century is to us. The Sacred Round of 260 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. The day names are Imix, Ik, Akbal, Kan, Chicchan, Cimi, Manik, Lamat, Muluc, Oc, Chuen, Eb, Ben, Ix, Men, Cib, Caban, Eiznab, Cauac, and Ahau. In the 260-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 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 260-day cycle would be 13 Ahau. It is believed the 260-day cycle may tie several celestial events together, including the configuration of Mars, appearances of Venus, or eclipse

seasons. The Vague Year or haab of 365 days is similar to our calendar, consisting of 18 months of 20 days each, with an unlucky five-day period at the end. The calendar of 365 days had to do primarily with the seasons and agriculture, and was based on the solar cycle. The 18 Maya months are known, in order, as: Pop, Uo, Zip, Zotz, Tzec, Xuc, Yaxkin, Mol, Chen, Yax, Zac, Ceh, Mac, Kankin, Maun, Pax, Kayab and Cumku. 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 July, with their month of Pop. The Maya 20-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 18,890 days, or approximately 52 solar years. The end of this 52-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 52-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 days); a tun (a year of 360 days or 18 months); a katun (20 years); a baktun (20 katuns, or 400 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 3114 B.C. or 3113 B.C. of our modern calendar. 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