division of days
Most historians think that 4 Ahau 8 Cumku (most likely August 11, 3114 bce) was the base date used by the Maya for the start of the “Long Count” and the first “Great Cycle,” a period of 5,125 years that ends on December 21, 2012 ce.
The Mayan calendar consists of three separate calendars that are used simultaneously: the Long Count , the Tzolkin (divine calendar) and the Haab (civil 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.
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 the world uses today .
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 .
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 .
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.
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.
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.
The Maya Calendar contains two separately working calendars which function simultaneously: the Haab, or civil calendar of 365 days in an 18 month period of 20 days each, and the Tzolkin, or sacred calendar , of 260 days divided into three groups of months of 20 days.
Where did the Maya live? Mayan civilization occupied much of the northwestern part of the isthmus of Central America, from Chiapas and Yucatán, now part of southern Mexico , through Guatemala , Honduras , Belize , and El Salvador and into Nicaragua.