The Mayan Calendar

The unique and amazing Maya civilization left us the Tzolkin calendar and the mayans also invented the calendars we use today. The Tzolkin calendar has been studied by researchers and they claimed that the last year in that calendar is 2012. Many people think that 2012 is the year when the life on Earth will disappear. “For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle,” says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. in Crystal River, Florida. “To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting”, she says, is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”
The Maya used a base 20 (vigesimal) and base 5 numbering system (see Maya numerals). Also, they independently developed the concept of zero by 357 AD (Europeans did not embrace zero until the 12th century). Inscriptions show them on occasion working with sums up to the hundreds of millions and dates so large it would take several lines just to represent it. They produced extremely accurate astronomical observations; their charts of the movements of the moon and planets are equal or superior to those of any other civilization working from naked eye observation.
By tracking the movements of the Moon, Venus, and other heavenly bodies, the Mayans realized that there were cycles in the Cosmos. From this came their reckoning of time, and a calendar that accurately measures the solar year to within minutes.
The Mayan utilized a highly accurate measure of the length of the solar year, far more accurate than that used in Europe as the basis of the Gregorian Calendar. They did not use this figure for the length of year in their calendar, however. Instead, the Maya calendars were based on a year length of exactly 365 days, which means that the calendar falls out of step with the seasons by one day every four years. By comparison, the Julian calendar, used in Europe from Roman times until about the 16th Century, accumulated an error of one day every 128 years. The modern Gregorian calendar accumulates a day’s error in approximately 3257 years.
The calendar Round is like two gears that inter-mesh, one smaller than the other. One of the gears is called the Tzolkin or Sacred Round. The other is the Haab or Calendar Round. The Tzolkin consisted of 13 months each 20 days long, and the Haab of 18 months each 20 days long, and five rest days, thus making 365 days.
The priests used mathematics and astronomy to develop two kinds of calendars. One was a sacred almanac of 260 days. Each day was named with one of 20 day names and a number from 1 to 13. Each of the 20 day names had a god or goddess associated with it. The priests predicted good or bad luck by studying the combinations of gods or goddesses and numbers.
The Mayan calendar of 365 days is based on the orbit of the earth around the sun. These days were divided into 18 months of 20 days each, plus 5 days at the end of the year. The Maya considered these last 5 days of the year to be extremely unlucky. During that period they fasted, made many sacrifices, and avoided unnecessary work.


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