The Mayan Calendar Explained

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posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 06:27 PM
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To continue my series of threads designed to educate and correct misconceptions regarding the Maya and 2012 I have decided to explain what exactly composes the Mayan "calendar." I have seen many times on here people referencing a single Mayan calendar, but this is not true. Instead the Maya used a number of calendars that were interconnected.

The first, which would be most familiar to us, is the haab. The haab was a 365-day solar calendar that was used to determine planting seasons. It was composed of 18 months each with 20 days each and then another five nameless days at the end of the year. Originally, the names of the months corresponded with certain events, usually agricultural related, that would occur during that time. However, since the haab did not account for the fact that a year is slightly longer than 365-days these correspondences disappeared after a few centuries. This brings up another misconception I normally see claimed. Time and again I see people on these boards stating that the Mayan calendar was most accurate calendar ever created, however as we can clearly see they did not account for the fact that the year is slightly longer than 365 days, which makes our modern Gregorian calendar more accurate.

The second calendar is the tzolkin. While the exact purpose of the tzolkin is a mystery many modern Mayan communities use it to determine religious ceremonies and rituals. This has led researchers to believe that it served a similar purpose to the Classic period Maya. The tzolkin is a 260-day calendar, but its construction is slightly more complicated than the haab. Instead of breaking a cycle down into months and days it breaks it down into day numbers and day names. There were 13 numbers and 20 names. Each day both the number and day would progress to the next. For example, the tzolkin year began on 1 Imix'. The next day would then be 2 Ik'. After 13 days the number would revert back to one, but the name would continue on its cycle. So, 13 B'en would then become 1 Ix. It would then take 260 days to return to the starting position of 1 Imix'.

From these two calendars the Maya produced the Calendar Round. The Calendar Round is a 52-year cycle that is composed of combining a haab date with a tzolkin date. To create a Calendar Round date you would simply write down the tzolkin date followed by the haab date. Generally a Calendar Round begins on 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u as this is considered the same Calendar Round date as when the world was created. It would then take 52 years to have this date repeat, at which point one would complete a Calendar Round.

Since the Calendar Round was only useful for keeping track of dates within a 52 year period the Maya developed another calendar system to keep track of historic dates. This is the famous Long Count. While much has been written about this calendar, it is actually a fairly simply system to understand. In fact most of what you need to know about it is contained in its name. It was simply a count of days. In most cases the Long Count starts on the mythical creation date, which corresponds with August 11, 3114 BCE. There are however other Long Counts that start before this date. Most notable is Coba Stela 1. Once one knows the starting point all one has to do is count the days. To make things more manageable the Long Count was broken down into different units. These units were:

k'in = 1 day
winal = 20 k'in = 20 days
tun = 18 winal = 360 days
k'atun = 20 winal = 19.7 years
b'ak'tun = 20 k'atun = 394.3 years

Most people believe that the Long Count stopped counting after b'ak'tun, but in fact it continues beyond that. The higher-order cycles follow along the pattern of the lower-order cycles. For example, 20 b'ak'tun are equivalent to 1 piktun and 20 piktun are equivalent to 1 kalabtun. This brings up another misconception I address in another of my topics. Many people believe that the Long Count ends or resets after 13 b'ak'tun, but this just isn't true. If one looks at the way the Long Count is constructed it becomes immediately clear that this calendar was designed to go on forever. It had no other purpose than the count the days.

These three calendars are the primary Mayan calendars, but there are a few lesser known calendars that functioned in supplementary role. The first is the Lords of the Night. This date was composed of a glyph that referred to all of the lords followed by a glyph representing the lord of that night. Every nine days this calendar would cycle back to the beginning. Another calendar was the Lunar Series which merely keeps information on the current phase of the Moon as well as the current ruling lunar deity. The final calendar was the Venus cycle. Much like the Lunar Series, this calendar was mainly astronomical and depended on the heliacal rising of Venus. It is believed that this calendar was used mainly for war and that rulers would plan conquests around when Venus was rising.

So, as you can see there was more to the Maya's method of timekeeping than just a single calendar. It is a safe assumption that those who refer to the "Mayan calendar" have not really done much research into the Maya and are merely trying to cash in on the 2012 hype. It is worth noting similarities between the Gregorian calendar and the Mayan calendar system however. While we may not have a Calendar Round our own calendar is essentially composed of a cyclical calendar and a linear calendar. We have our solar calendar that repeats every 365.25 days, but we also have our own count of the years that is not designed to have an end. So, there is the Mayan calendar system in a nutshell. While it is very different than what many New Age authors have led people to believe I personally find it to be much more interesting than just a single calendar and it certainly gives us a look at what the Maya found to be important.




posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 06:39 PM
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The 2012 calender is a calender to mark the end of this age.

Solar planting calenders have nothing to do with this



posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 06:51 PM
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reply to post by Xcalibur254
 

Thanks for this--for all the good it will do.

You'll still see posts proclaiming the Maya the greatest astronomers of all time, with the most accurate calendar (not "calendars") ever seen, and having the greatest mystical knowledge of the universe ever imagined. I can only surmise that these glowing assessments are a result of their viewing a bunch of Youtube videos, listening only to themselves and their fellow believers, and basing all their knowledge on that.

I think this is one of those things where some people just really, really truly *want* to believe, and don't much care to look into the facts that would show it all to be the empty drivel that it is....



posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 06:58 PM
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reply to post by Dillon123
 


This simply isn't true. The "2012 calendar" as you put it is the Long Count. Nowhere in the Classic period do we have an example of the Long Count that ends after 13 baktun. In fact as I mentioned in my post we have examples of Long Counts that extend far beyond 13 baktun. The only source we have for the belief that we enter a new age every 13 baktun is the post-Colonial text the Popol Vuh. However, it has been found that this text has been highly influenced by Christian missionaries and does not actually reflect the traditional beliefs of the Maya.



posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 07:50 PM
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The reason they have several calendars is because these calendars are very ancient. The Earth has changed its orbit before. Years used to be of different lengths. This is also why in the biblical tales people lived for hundreds of years. They did, just not such long years.

Read this for the full explanation.



posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 10:12 PM
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Thanks for posting this! A lot of good information. I think I've seen 2 or 3 new shows a month on T.V. covering the Mayan/2012 topic for the last couple of years. It is starting to get crazy.



posted on Dec, 4 2011 @ 10:44 PM
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reply to post by CaptChaos
 


The length of the year has not changed. What has changed is the rotation of the Earth. It has slowed down over time. This can be seen in the fossil record. To have the Earth rotating 360 times in a year would require the Earth significantly speeding up its rotation in recent times. That has not happened.

The hoax page you linked to makes some claims such as:

the Olmecs knew the length of the year had been 360 days prior to 747 BC

For now forget the ridiculous amount of energy it would take to speed up the rotation of the Earth by that amount. Such a change would have been noted by peoples using a lunar calendar. No such observations are made. The Egyptians long before that date knew that the year was close to 365 days.

The claims of this writer are simply false interpretations of the calendars or more likely purposeful misrepresentations.

Here is another ridiculous claim

After 2349 BC the year went to 260 days.



What the author misrepresents is the purpose of the calendar. They misrepresent that the Mayans used several calendars that were of different lengths. The calendars were not matched to the year as claimed. Astronomers in China, the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, Greece, and other parts of the world mark the year as being 365 days.



posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 06:27 AM
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Actually, that so called hoax page is the culmination of over twenty years of research. If you would read the whole thing, (it is enormous) you would realize that texts from ancient China, Greece, Egypt, Sumeria, India and even the christian bible all say the year used to be much shorter, and they also all agree on the different lengths of the year. The Mesoamerican stuff is hard because all records were destroyed by the Spaniards.

They all agree on lots of things that are dismissed by anthropologists as "myths". The fact is, all these ancient "myths and legends" are simply descriptions of things actually happening that they saw with their own eyes.

Or else, everyone in the world, thousands of miles apart, all were imagining the same "myths" at the same time.

I'm sure you believe your "bible" about the flood of Noah, and Noah living for six hundred years. THAT must be true, but everything else is false, right?

Try reading the book. Even a speed reader would take weeks to read this weighty tome, not five minutes to glance at it and declare it a hoax.



posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 12:14 PM
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reply to post by CaptChaos
 



Actually, that so called hoax page is the culmination of over twenty years of research. If you would read the whole thing, (it is enormous) you would realize that texts from ancient China, Greece, Egypt, Sumeria, India and even the christian bible all say the year used to be much shorter, and they also all agree on the different lengths of the year. The Mesoamerican stuff is hard because all records were destroyed by the Spaniards.

Actually, this is still a hoax. The idea with this false story with so many others is that myths are history. The myths do not agree with each other as you suggest or this hoax author suggests. None of these places claim that the year was shorter. The Sumerians knew that the year was 365 and they had a complicated lunar calendar system that added and removed lunar months to keep their calendar in sych with the year which was 365. This author claims that the year was differnet lengths due to the use of multiple calendars by the Mayans. These calendars were in use at the same time. Is this hoaxer going to claim that the year was different lengths all at the same time?


They all agree on lots of things that are dismissed by anthropologists as "myths". The fact is, all these ancient "myths and legends" are simply descriptions of things actually happening that they saw with their own eyes.

Really? Did these ancient tales of animals speaking really happen? Ancient people are not allowed to use their imaginations? Is that it?


Or else, everyone in the world, thousands of miles apart, all were imagining the same "myths" at the same time.

Check the timelines and show us where 2 peoples in separate parts of the world did this.


I'm sure you believe your "bible" about the flood of Noah, and Noah living for six hundred years. THAT must be true, but everything else is false, right?

Your suggestions about my beliefs are as mistaken as your beliefs in this hoaxer.

I've read enough of the text to realize that this person is painting a story less interesting than Velikovsky and I did read his book.



posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 02:28 PM
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reply to post by Xcalibur254
 


Weird thing is multiple other civilizations had a calender that ended on the same date(Chinese for example).

And yes it was a calender to show cycles of consciousness, being long count or not has nothing to do with it.

Want some more?




posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 03:09 PM
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reply to post by Dillon123
 


These are once again claims made by New Age authors that have no actual bearing in reality. I have heard these claims time and again, but so far no one has been able to actually provide any kind of proof. They either just post a copy-and-pasted list from some forum that states all the cultures that "knew" about 2012 or they link me to a New Age site that says the same thing as every other New Age site. So, please provide me verifiable proof that what you claim is true because in all of my research I have been unable to find any evidence that these other calendars even exist.

As for the Long Count measuring cycles of human consciousness that must be one long cycle. I mean we have the calendar in Coba that extends back trillions of years and we have the calendar in Palenque that extends into piktuns. In fact, as I have stated many times, there is no example of a Long Count from the Classic period that "ends" after 13 baktun. In fact the only example I can think of is the reference from the Popol Vuh which, once again as I have stated many times, is a post-Colonial text that was heavily influenced by the Christian missionaries. Nowhere else in all of Mayan epigraphy or icongraphy is this belief in cycles supported. So, before you start trying to lecture someone on that Maya maybe you should put down the Jenkins/Calleman/Arguelles/*insert other fraud here* book and read some legitimate texts on Mayan cosmology.



posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 04:33 PM
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Hi OP,interesting thread... out of interest where are you getting your info from? You seem well educated in this area...

thanks



posted on Dec, 5 2011 @ 05:51 PM
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reply to post by doubledutch
 


Archaeological texts and journals. A surprising of archaeologists also maintain blogs where they discuss their own work as well as any new findings that interest them. I have also read books by most of the big name 2012 authors, just so I can see what kinds of claims they are making.



posted on Dec, 7 2011 @ 03:12 PM
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using the past to predict the future is nothing new. what happens in our lifetime anybody would like a crystal ball. here is some good read on the Maya Calender and 2012 The Real Doomsday?



posted on Dec, 7 2011 @ 03:37 PM
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Great to see somebody with some common sense and real research to back it up. But it's like beating a dead horse trying to get the truth out to people who only want to believe in fantasy.

I've been saying it here for years, the Mayan long count calendar doesn't even end in 2012. There are 7 more Baktuns (over 2700 years) to go until it resets and starts again.

add..


Most people believe that the Long Count stopped counting after b'ak'tun, but in fact it continues beyond that. The higher-order cycles follow along the pattern of the lower-order cycles. For example, 20 b'ak'tun are equivalent to 1 piktun and 20 piktun are equivalent to 1 kalabtun.


Oh I see now you think it goes on beyond the 20 Baktun cycle to Piktuns and Kalabtuns. That's interesting, I hadn't thought of that. Makes sense though.
edit on 12/7/2011 by mythatsabigprobe because: add quote and comment



posted on Dec, 7 2011 @ 10:17 PM
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reply to post by rebellender
 


I wouldn't believe what that links claims. Basically, it's a bad site making bad claims.

I was trying to find this Rollin Gillespie. Can't seem to find him. Looks like another character created to support an internet hoax. Is this person real?
edit on 7-12-2011 by stereologist because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 7 2011 @ 10:46 PM
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reply to post by CaptChaos
 


Actually if you read the direct Sumerian translations Noah was approximately 36,000 years old at the time of the flood. Compliments of Zecharia Sitchin.



posted on Dec, 8 2011 @ 10:03 PM
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reply to post by Witness2008
 


Sitchin could not translate Sumerian. He faked everything.



posted on Dec, 25 2011 @ 10:49 PM
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reply to post by CaptChaos
 


t
this is a rather intriguing conversation going on here... i would like to hear more about this and what everyones overall theory is... i believe the solar flare theory, and that its gonna cleanse this land of all things deemed naturally unneccesary (spell*?)
i.e. electronics...
my mind is going crazy with all this info i've taken in recentlyabout the NWO and 2012... its just so hard to find the truth in anything anymore... im done rambling... and aloha from hawaii.



posted on Dec, 29 2011 @ 11:50 AM
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Thanks for this post. I've been searching for it!





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