Mayan calendar

The Maya had three calendars:

Tzolkin or sacred calendar

drawing of the glyphs for the 20 'months' in the Mayan sacred calendar

The sacred year consisted of 20 “months” of 13 days each. Each of the 13 days and each of the 20 “months” has a name. Both the “months” and days cycle continuously; each new day is in a new “month.” It is as if, in the Gregorian calendar, 6 January was followed by 7 February followed by 8 March. Since 13 and 20 have no common factor, there are 260 unique names for days, and the sacred year is 260 days long.

Since a date in the sacred calendar has no year component, it is not possible to convert a date like “5 Ix” to (for example) the Gregorian calendar. However, it is possible to find what the Tzolkin name for a date in the Gregorian calendar would be:

 

Gregorian date:  

would be 

Haab or secular calendar

drawing of the glyphs for the 18 uinals in the Mayan secular calendar

In the secular calendar, a year consisted of 18 uinals, which is a period of 20 days. 18 × 20 = 360 days, with five days left over, an annual unlucky period called Uayeb. The first day of the uinal was 0, and the last was 19, followed by day 0 of the next uinal.

Like the sacred calendar, it is not possible to convert a date like “5 Kankin” to, for example, the Gregorian calendar, since it has no year component. 

It was usual to give both the sacred and civil name for a day.  A day thus described will not recur for 52 civil years, or 73 sacred years.

 

The long count

The long count was used for inscriptions.  It is a count of the number of days since the beginning of the current period.

             

alantun

           

kinchiltun

20

         

calabtun

20

400

       

pictun

20

400

8,000

     

baktun

20

400

8,000

160,000

   

katun

20

400

8,000

160,000

3,200,000

 

tun

20

400

8,000

160,000

3,200,000

64,000,000

uinal

18

360

7,200

144,000

2,880,000

 57,600,000

1,152,000,000

kin (sun)

20

360

7,200

144,000

2,880,000

57,600,000

1,152,000,000

23,040,000,000

1
day
 
 

30
days
 
 

360
days
 
 

about
19.7
Greg.
years 

about
395
Greg.
years

about
7,885
Gregorian
years

about
157,703
Gregorian
years

about
3,154,069
Gregorian
years

about
63,081,377
Gregorian
years

Today historians write dates in the long count in the following form (the date given is the beginning of the present era): 13. 0. 0. 0. 0. 4 Ahau, that is baktun. katun. tun. uinal. kin., followed by the name of the day in the sacred calendar.

Using astronomical events recorded both by Mayan and European astronomers, and historical events whose dates were recorded both by Spaniards and civilizations using the Mayan calendar, scholars have sought to correlate the Mayan and Gregorian calendars. According to the most widely accepted correlation (the “Goodman-Martinez-Thompson Correlation”) the current Mayan epoch began on Wednesday 11 August 3113 bce (Gregorian) which is Julian date 584,282.5.

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