The Maya civilization was one of the most dominant indigenous societies of Mesoamerica (a term used to describe Mexico and Central America before the 16th century Spanish conquest). Unlike other scattered indigenous populations of Mesoamerica, the Maya were centered in one geographical block covering all of the Yucatan Peninsula and modern-day Guatemala;
ART AND CULTURE OF MAYAN edit
The Classic Maya built many of their temples and palaces in a stepped pyramid shape, decorating them with elaborate reliefs and inscriptions. These structures have earned the Maya their reputation as the great artists of Mesoamerica. Guided by their religious ritual, the Maya also made significant advances in mathematics and astronomy, including the use of the zero and the development of complex calendar systems like the Calendar Round, based on 365 days, and later, the Long Count Calendar, designed to last over 5,000 years.
The Mayan calendar is an ancient calendar system that rose to fame in 2012, when a “Great Cycle” of its Long Count component came to an end, inspiring some to believe that the world would end at 11:11 UTC on December 21, 2012. The media hype and hysteria that ensued was later termed the 2012 phenomenon.
The Mayan Calendar is a hieroglyph-heavy calendar. Unlike solar-based calendars, such as the Gregorian, it counts days as opposed to the length of a solar year. The calendar also comprised three interlocking calendars.
The Mayan Calendar consists of three separate corresponding calendars: the Long Count, the Tzolkin (divine calendar), and the Haab (civil calendar). Each of them is cyclical, meaning that a certain number of days must occur before a new cycle can begin.
The three calendars are used simultaneously. The Tzolkin and the Haab identify the days, but not the years. The Long Count date comes first, then the Tzolkin date, and last the Haab date. A typical Mayan date would read: 184.108.40.206.0 4 Ahau 8 Kumku, where 220.127.116.11.0 is the Long Count date, 4 Ahau is the Tzolkin date, and 8 Kumku is the Haab date.
The Haab edit
The Haab is a 365-day solar calendar which is divided into 18 months of 20 days each and one month which is only 5 days long (Uayeb). The calendar has an outer ring of Mayan glyphs (pictures) which represent each of the 19 months. Each day is represented by a number in the month followed by the name of the month. Each glyph represents a personality associated with the month.
The Haab is somewhat inaccurate as it is exactly 365 days long. An actual tropical or solar year, the time it takes Earth to orbit the Sun, takes about 365.24219 days on average. In today’s Gregorian calendar, we adjust for this discrepancy by making almost every fourth year a leap year, when an extra day—a leap day—is added on the 29th of February.
The Tzolkin edit
The Tzolkin, meaning “the distribution of the days,” is also called the Divine Calendar and the Sacred Round. It is a 260-day calendar with 20 periods of 13 days, and it is used to determine the time of religious and ceremonial events. The days in each period are numbered from one to 13. Each day is also given a name (glyph) from a sequence of 20 day names.
The Long Count edit
The Long Count is an astronomical calendar which is used to track longer periods of time. The Maya called it the “universal cycle.” Each such cycle is calculated to be 2,880,000 days long (about 7885 solar years). The Mayans believed that the universe is destroyed and then recreated at the start of each universal cycle. This belief caused the 2012 phenomenon described above, and it still inspires a myriad of prophecies about the end of the world.
The “creation date” for the current cycle is 4 Ahau, 8 Kumku. According to the most common conversion, this date is equivalent to August 11, 3114 BCE in the Gregorian calendar and September 6, 3114 BCE in the Julian calendar.
DECLINE OF MAYAN CIVILIZATION edit
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 reason for this mysterious decline is unknown, though scholars have developed several competing theories.
- History.com (ed.). "Maya". HISTORY. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
- "The Mayan Calendar". www.timeanddate.com. Retrieved 2020-04-10.