Maya Cycles of Time – Maya Calendrics Like all Mesoamerican cultures, the Maya employed a 260-day year called the Tzolkin or sacred almanac. Dates consisted of pairings of two cycles , one cycle of 13 day numbers with another of 20 day names.
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 .
In the Maya Long Count, the previous world ended after 13 bʼakʼtuns, or roughly 5,125 years. The Long Count’s “zero date” was set at a point in the past marking the end of the third world and the beginning of the current one, which corresponds to 11 August 3114 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar.
News flash: the world didn’t end on Dec . 21 , 2012 . You’ve probably already figured that out for yourself. Despite reports of an ancient Maya prophecy, a mysterious planet on a collision course with Earth, or a reverse in Earth’s rotation, we’re still here.
Allen Christenson, professor of comparative arts and letters and an expert on Mayan society, explained that although the Maya couldn’t predict the exact day of an eclipse , they could predict eclipse seasons by noting when Venus rose above the horizon just before sunrise.
The Maya used the vigesimal system for their calculations – a system based on 20 rather than 10. This means that instead of the 1, 10, 100, 1,000 and 10,000 of our mathematical system, the Maya used 1, 20 , 400, 8,000 and 160,000 .
Mysterious Decline of the Maya From the late eighth through the end of the ninth century, something unknown happened to shake the Maya civilization to its foundations. One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed.
The current practice of referring to the current baktun as ” baktun 13” or “thirteenth baktun ” may stand, even though it is properly the fourteenth baktun .
Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It’s likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.
The calendar was based on a ritual cycle of 260 named days and a year of 365 days. Taken together, they form a longer cycle of 18,980 days, or 52 years of 365 days, called a “ Calendar Round.”
At the end of the 13th baktun, the Long Count calendar resets to 0.0. 0.0. 0. The ancient Maya reportedly believed that with each end of the Universal cycle, the Universe itself would “reset” by ending and starting over — not just the calendar — hence the doomsday interpretation.
Save this story for later. Some millennialists believe the world will end on December 21st, 2012 — the day the ancient Mayan calendar runs out. But if we survive that, Unix and Linux geeks know that the real end of time is waiting just around the corner: January 19, 2038 , at 3:14 a.m. UTC.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December 21 is often the shortest day of the year and is sometimes regarded as the first day of winter. In the Southern Hemisphere, December 21 is often the longest day of the year and occurs during the southern summer.
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