Human beings concocted
their concept of "time" by daily observing
the natural phenomenon of the movement of celestial
bodies, most obviously of the Sun, and have adapted
their activities to this solar motion ever since. Not
escaping this impulse, the Maya immersed themselves
in numerology, and come up with the Mayan calendar,
one of the greatest contributions to universal culture.
Watching the movement of the sun every day, and perceiving
the existence of an order in the firmament of which
he was a part, the Maya intuited that he came from the
Gods, whom he identified with the celestial bodies and
the natural phenomena around him. Sensing a practical
aspect to these observations, systems of calendars were
devised that allowed a suitable adaptation of the heavenly
order to their social system.
To have a calendar is a world-wide necessity and in
this aspect the Maya has excelled: one small example
is that our calendar, which is known as the Gregorian
calendar, accumulates an error of one day every 4000
years, however the Mayan calendar accumulates one day
every 5000 years. When this all began cannot be known
exactly, nevertheless, what can be verified is that
several regions of Mesoamérica were especially
involved in using the Mayan calendar. The Mayan calendar,
considered one of the most exact in the world, is noted
for the accomplishment of using the vigesimal system
of base twenty.
The Mayans made
STONE monoliths, called Stela, and also handmade
paper and leatherwork.
The Mayans represented
numbers with a hieroglyphic system of points and bars:
a point equals one, a bar equals five and a snail is
This use of zero represents
a great discovery, because it demonstrates a deep knowledge
of mathematics. Zero was used by the Maya 900 years
before the Arabs brought it to Europe. The necessity
of measuring astronomic cycles for practical purposes,
such as questions relating to agriculture - the base
of their economy - is a startling refinement to the
concept of "time."
see this image you may need to download the plugin.
is a Mayan Stela as used by the ancient Maya.
Represented wihin it, from top to bottom, are
the LONG COUNT, the CIVIL CALENDAR and the SACRED
CALENDAR, also the LUNAR CYCLE for each date.
The Maya erected Stela on their special occasions
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According to the Quiche Maya book "the Popol-Vuh",
the world was created by the twins Hunabku and Ixbalanke
by defeating the Lords of Heaven and Hell. and then
the Firstborn arises, Hun-nal-ye, the God of Corn, born
from the depths of the infraworld. From then on, the
creators dedicate themselves to the task of completing
creation, making the humans and the sun that will give
them their light, life and movement.
This expression may demonstrate that Mayan cosmology
is essentially an agricultural myth based on corn germination
and its conversion into the body of the human being.
It may also be seen as a metaphor for the domestication
of corn, which allowed a sedentary lifestyle and thereby
a development of culture.
In order to measure time, the Maya use three different
forms of counting:
The birth of Hun-nal-ye is the first day of the long
count of the Mayan calendar, and correspond to Zero
Baktun, Zero Katun, Zero Tun, Zero Uinal, Zero Kin of
what is known as the Long Count, the first of three
different counts. This day corresponds to 11 August
3113 B.C in our calendar.
First. - THE LONG COUNT counts the days passed
from the date of the beginning of their calendar, 11
of August of 3113, B.C. This is known as the long count
and begins on the day Zero Baktun, Zero Katun, Zero
Tun, Zero Uinal, Zero Kin. This count is made according
to the following values:
Baktun = 144,000 days
Katun = 7,200 days
Tun = 360 days
Uinal = 20 days
Kin = 1 day
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Second. - The sacred calendar, the Tzolkin, uses
a combination of thirteen cabalistic numbers with 20
figures of the days which gives us a value of 13x20=260
days. This it is the sacred calendar, known as the Tzolkin,
which was used by the priests to make predictions, horoscopes,
and religious celebrations. Some investigators suggest
this calendar has its origin in preclassic center of
Izapan in the state of Chiapas. In this site, the sun
passes through the zenith the 11 of August and following
with the course of the calendar east phenomenon of the
29 of April is repeated; if we counted the days passed
between these two dates, it gives 260 days us that is
the duration of the Tzolkin. This system to tell to
era normal for the common population and the names of
the 20 days is: Imix, Ik, Akbal, Kan, Chicchan, Cimi,
Manik, Lamat, Muluc, Oc, Chuen, Eb, Horseradish tree,
Ix, Men, Cib, Caban, Edznab, Cauac and Ahau.
The day of beginning corresponding to the 11 de agosto
of 3113 the 4 A.C. Ahua Is
Third. - They handled a well-known civil calendar
like Haab, to which only the ruling class had access,
and that was used for astronomy and the agricultural
cycles. This calendar has eighteen months of 20 days
and then an extra short month of five days. The names
of these months are: Pop, Uo, Zip, Zotz, Tzec, Xul,
Yaxkin, Mol, Ch`chen, Yax, Zac, Chen, Mac, Kankin, Muan,
Pax, Kayab, Cumku, and Uayeb.
The first day, 11 of August of 3113 A.C. corresponds
to 8 Cumku.
In order to determine the name of a day, the Maya use
a combination of both calendars, so our Gregorian date
of 11 de agosto of 3113 A.C., corresponds to 4 Ahau,
8 Cumku and is repeated until 18980 days have passed,
that is to say, 73 cycles of the 260 day "Tzolkin"
or 52 cycles of the 365 day "Haab".
The end of this cycle was celebrated by the New Fire
Ceremony of the and towards the renovation of diverse
Quarter. - They take the registry of I compute spot
in summary: the form to identify the date of beginning
11 of August of 3113 A.C. is zero Baktun, zero Katun,
zero Uinal, zero kin, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku which are expressed
thus: 0.0.0.0.0. 4 Ahau 8 Cumku
Important dates were
engraved in tall slabs of stone, in handmade paper or
in deer skin. The first glyph at the top is the introductory
sign known as the Alautun, within this is the figure
of the protective "saint" of the month corresponding
to the civil calendar. Later, the sequence of the number
of Baktunes, Katunes, Tunes, Uinales and Kines, then
come below the combinations of the sacred calendar and
civil calendar, and last of all the glyph of the lunar
Baktunes or "Era", equivalent to 51'253,661
years tropical took to a linear account within a period
of 13. The period of 13 Baktunes that we have ourselves
at the moment began the 11 de agosto of 3113 A.C. and
will finish the 23 of December of the 2012.
We completed the information supporting to us in a contained
chronological data in the Pág. 66 of the Oxkutzcab
chronicle document yucateco of century XVII. According
to this, day 3 of November 1539 (corresponding to the
13 of November according to the gregoriana correction)
11 was fulfilled 16 Baktunes and Katunes from the beginning
of the Mayan era (1´699,200 days) and the corresponding
date the sacred calendar and 13 the civil calendar is
8 Ahau Xul.
The idea of a new era, is that on the 21st of December
of 2012, when "the 13th Era" begins, the Mayan
date is 13 Baktun, zero Katun, zero Uinal, zero Kin.
Or it could be said that after the 12th Baktun comes
the equivalent of "Baktun Zero of the New Era".
This means that a new era is opened: everything goes
back to zero - zero Baktun, zero Katun, zero Tun, zero
Uinal, zero Kin.
It appears the Maya raised their Stela every five, ten
and twenty years, and also for special celebrations.
Now, with the aid of computers, research continues into
the meaning of Mayan hieroglyphics, making significant
advances upon the works of Linda Schele and Michael