The ancient Mayans were a highly advanced civilization, with a rich culture that included many different aspects of art, architecture, and spirituality. One area in which the Mayans excelled was in their understanding of astronomy and mathematics. This allowed them to create a highly accurate calendars.

The Maya had many calendars, but the one that interests many people today is their spiritual calendar the Tzol’kin or Chol’qi.

The 260 day calendar is a sacred tradition that has been passed down through the generations. It is an important part of understanding who you are and where you come from. Our readings are straight from the source, so you can be sure that you’re getting the most accurate information possible.

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260 Days

Maya sun

The Tzol'kin calendar is a sacred 260-day calendar that is still used by some Mayan communities today. Each day on the calendar is represented by a unique combination of a day sign and a number. The 20 day signs represent different archetypal energies, while the 13 numbers represent different numeral impulses. Together, these create a unique message or personality for each day.

If you're interested in learning more about the Tzol'kin calendar, be sure to sign up for a membership at mayanday.com. You'll have access to exclusive content where we explore the meanings of each day sign and how they can be used to guide your life path.

Nawals

The days of the Tzol’kin calendar are considered to be spirits or structures of consciousness. They are referred to by the Maya as “Nawals”. At their core they are archetypal concepts that have a multitude of meanings that coexist within the day.

The Tzol’kin is made up of two parts, the 20 nominal “Nawals” and the 13 numeral “Nawals”. The nominal “Nawals” represent archetypal nature  like the Deer, or  Road, Wind, and Knowledge. The numeral “Nawals” represent impulses or intenitions of water

The 20 Archetypal Nawls

1. Ahau/Junajpu – Sun / Ruling Energy: Leadership, abundance, vitality

2. Imix/Imox – Crocodile / Nurturing Energy: new beginnings, water, craziness

3. Ik/Iq – Wind / Spirit Energy: breath, communications, anger

4. Akbal/Aq’ab’al – Night / Mystical Energy: light, duality, dream

5. Kan/Kat – Net / Work Energy: fuel, net, debt

6. Chicchan/Kan – Serpent / Wisdom Energy: Illusion, wisdom, lightning

7. Cimi/Kame – Death / Ancestral Energy: community, oppression in the heart, Ancestors

8. Manik/Kej – Deer/ Forest Energy: Journey, strength, eating

9. Lamat/Q’anil – Rabbit / Intoxicated Energy: beauty, abundance, vice, rotting

10. Muluc/Toj – Fire / Emotional Healing Energy: cleansing emotions, forgiveness , compassion

11. Oc/Tzi – Dog / Loyalty Energy: faithfulness , protection , guard against negativity

12. Chuen/Batz – Monkey / Creative Energy : fun-loving , creative tricks , spirit guide connections

13. Eb/Ee – Road / Traveler's Energy : new horizons , change , unexpected adventures

14 . Ben/Aj - Reed / Barker's energy : prophecy , heralding messages from Spirit Guides

15 . Ix/Ix Balam - Jaguar / Shaman's energy : shape-shifting into other realms for clarity & healing

16 . Men/Tz’ikin - Eagle / Warrior's energy : clear vision , soaring above challenges , strength in adversity

17 . Cib/Ajmaq - Vulture / Courageous Energy : cycles of life & death ; Transition ; karmic balance

18 . Caban/Noj - Knowledge / Logistical Energy : grounding stability amidst change ; sense of place

19 . Eznab/Tijax - Knife / Mirror Energy: cutting through illusions to see truth sharpness; criticism with love

20 . Cauac/Kawuq - Storm / Healing Energy: the illuminated clouds that represents an inner vision.

The 13 Numeral Nawals

  1. Jun- Invitation, beginning

  2. Keb- Duality, Calculation

  3. Oxib- Action, Home

  4. Kajib- Stability, Attachment, Stagnant

  5. Job- Breakthrough, to Find

  6. Wakib- Heart, Weighing

  7. Wuqub- Reflection, Explosion

  8. Wajxaquib- Order, Return,

  9.  Belejeb- Hidden, Transformation

  10. Lajuj- Meeting, Manifestation

  11. Julajuj- Resolution, Liberation

  12. Kablajuj- Understanding, Extra

  13. Oxlajuj- Ancestral, the Biggest

Trecena

The concept of Trecena explores the idea of the matching of these two groups of “Nawals”. Trecena, which references the 13 numeral “Nawals”, is the 13 day week period that the 20 archetypal “Nawals” phase through.

This combination of “Nawals” creates 260 unique days and 20 different Trecenas. Depending on which Maya lineage, the name of the Trecena is either the first or the last day. The Yucatec Maya used the first day as the name of trecena, where as the Kiche Maya use the last day.

This concept of Trecena has been passed down through oral tradition, but never referenced in Maya stelae.

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At Mayanday.com our new Interactive Trecena Analysis tool will help you understand the real meaning of the Mayan Calendar. This knowledge has been preserved by the K'ichi' Maya in the highlands of Guatemala and Maya of the Yucatán Peninsula.

View the Trecena in its entirety, as well as each individual day, with our new Interactive Trecena Analysis tool. You won't find anything like it anywhere else!

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Maya

Mayan Temple

Can a civilization like the Mayans exist for thousands of years without collapse? Could it be possible to exist for that long and not collapse? What killed off this long living and powerful people? Was it a great flood? Volcanic eruption? Climate change or something else? What caused them to mysteriously vanish?

What caused the Mayan civilization to collapse? So many mysteries come from the Mayan civilization. 

Decline

The Mayans started to slowly fade away in what we call the Post Classic period. The fall of major cities like Tikal in Mesoamerica began at the end of the 8th century A.D. 

Tikal

Temple of the Jaguar

The Mayans thankfully were obsessed with time and carved important dates in stone monuments called “Stelae”. This has helped give archeologists a rough timeline of their history. Stela 11, erected in 869 A.D is the last known dated monument in Tikal.

After the fall of Tikal, other mayan cities followed. The prominent city Tonina, who dominated a large region of Mesoamerica, eventually declined and was abandoned. 

This decline marks the end of the Classic Period of the Maya, and the beginning of what we call the Post Classic Period, lasting from 900 A.D to 1521 A.D.

In this period the Toltecs, Mixtecs, and Aztecs begin to carve out their corner in history, while one of the last cities of the Maya is founded. Mayapan was founded in the northern part of the Yucatan around 1200 A.D, this was the center of the Post Classic Maya. Eventually collapsing in the late 14th century A.D. 

The decline of the Mayans was spread out over the region and its timeline. Each city state may have had different reasons for collapse. The eventual arrival of the Spanish cemented the Maya civilization in the past, leaving many questions unanswered.  

Overpopulation

There were likely several problems at the start of their decline.

One of the major theories is that the Mayan civilization began to collapse in a series of events which came as a result of overpopulation and overconsumption of resources. 

The ruins of Tikal, one of the largest Mayan cities, are an indication that the Mayans were once very densely populated. New scans of the jungle surrounding the site have revealed tens of thousands of new structures, a massive amount of roadways, and irrigation systems. Now archaeologists are saying that this city at one time held around 10 million people. 

Tikal

Temple II at Tikal

This overpopulation in Tikal, and neighboring cities such as Palenque, and Copan, may have been the main cause of collapse for the classic period of Maya Civilization. 

The living conditions at the height of Tikal are unknown, but they were masters at agriculture and enjoyed plenty of luxuries for such an ancient civilization. 

The real reason for collapse may be more suitably linked to war, and political change. The Mayans ritually made war with each other, and the evidence of this is widely spread throughout Mesoamerican history. The Maya are known to have taken slaves and prisoners in warfare.

What We Know about the Maya

Their Civilization began in around 600 B.C. in what is now the Yucatan, and lowland jungles of Guatemala.

The Maya inhabited a large part of what is now Guatemala and Mexico, but they had also occupied present-day Belize, Honduras, El Salvador.They were the dominant culture in Mesoamerica.

Before the Spanish Conquest, the Mayans had a highly developed civilization. The Mayans had unique artworks, architecture, and pottery techniques.

The Mayans had a sophisticated calendar system, they tracked celestial events like the solstices and equinox. They had calendars that tracked the phases of the planets. 

It is known that the Maya had a widespread trade network, but the extent of this trade is not completely known.

The Maya were able to construct a vast city that covered massive areas, likely unsurpassed by any other ancient civilization.

The Maya were skilled stone workers who developed new techniques for carving. Mayan cities were built using pre-made bricks made from limestone.

The Mayan civilization went through an amazing amount of growth during its 3000 year span. However, there were also very important changes during this period.

The Classic Mayan period was the period in the history of this civilization which saw a dramatic rise in the size of its population.

the Mayans had mastered a complex calendar system and developed writing. They are also famously known for understanding the mathematical concept of zero. 

The Mayans are undoubtedly one of the world’s first great civilizations.

Descendants 

Maya

Mayan Market

The Mayan people are still alive today. So the civilization hasn’t completely collapsed or ended. They cary on ancient traditions inherited from their ancestors. They even speak the same language, their ancestors did thousands of years ago.

Archaeologists continue to unearth new discoveries, some that are now changing our whole perspective on the Maya. 

Origin of the Mayan Civilization

The Mayans were an ancient civilization which existed thousands of years ago. They populated the regions of the Yucatán Peninsula, southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and a part of El Salvador.

They dominated these regions for thousands of years, building huge cities and enormous pyramids. Experts in Math and Astronomy, they excelled in agriculture and trade, and they even developed a very unique writing and number system, not to mention their calendrical systems. 

Maya

Stone Jaguar Heads

The Mayans developed a sophisticated literary culture, and many of their monuments and religious ceremonies are of great archaeological significance.

Archaeologists are now discovering even more astonishing things about the Maya, underneath the overgrowth of the jungle. The Maya left behind quite a mystery for the future to uncover…

Timeline

There is still debate about an exact timeline for the Maya, as new discoveries keep changing the history. A general consensus is that the earliest Mayan villages in Central America and Mexico, are dated back to as early as 2500 B.C. 

Great waring city states were established, and the Maya civilization prospered for thousands of years. 

Just before the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica, the Maya began to disperse. This is a big mystery in the history and understanding of the civilization. 

 

The Mayans became the dominant power in Mesoamerica in the second half of the first millennium A.D. But the Maya were not the first civilization to emerge in this ancient land.

Pre Maya 

Before the Mayans established their Civilization, The Olmec and Zapotec people made their mark. The Olmec famous for their enormous stone heads, lived in southeastern Mexico, what is now the modern state of Tabasco. 

Olmec

Olmec Stone Head

La Venta is one famous site left by the Olmec, dating to around 1100 B.C. they left behind many amazing giant sculptures, pyramids, and monuments. Archaeologists say that the Olmec date back to about 1500 B.C.

The Zapotec culture, dating to around 700 B.C, pre date the Maya. They ruled in the region that is now Oaxaca Mexico. One major site the Zapotec built, is a large pyramid complex called Monte Alban. 

Piecing together the chronology of the city through pottery, archaeologists have pieced together 2000 years of history for this ancient city. Divided into 5 parts of history, this one city in Oaxaca Mexico has a rich and deep past. 

Pre Classic

Generally the Pre Classic period for the Maya describes the civilizations beginning. From settlers to villages, the Maya began to establish their culture. They begin constructing their first ceremonial city’s and temples.

Around 750 B.C the Mayans establish their first city Nakbe in the northern Guatemalan lowlands. Nakbe is just a few kilometers south of the recently heralded El Miradaor, site and its massive pyramid La Danta.

One of the most famous Mayan archaeological sites, Tikal, was constructed in the Pre Classic period around the 4th century B.C. It is towards the end of the Pre Classic period the Maya start erecting massive cities all over southern Mexico and Central America. 

Classic Period

The Classic Period of the Maya is when the civilization flourished. 

In this period of Mayan history, many major city states battled with each other for power over certain regions.

King Pakal and his lineage start to build amazing temples at Palenque in the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. Including the temple of inscriptions, the palace, and the temple of the cross group. The history of Palenque stretches from 226 B.C. to 799 A.D. 

Palenque

Palenque

Although not as big as other Mayan sites like Tikal. Palenque is known for its massive amounts of monuments, glyphs, and reliefs that were preserved so well. It’s lineages of rulers also added to the history of Palenque. Including the famous Pakal, who ruled Palenque for 68 years. 

Tikal one of the biggest Mayan sites known today, was a powerful city state in the Classic Period. Tikal reigned over a large part of the Guatemala lowlands and part of Mexico during its rule. 

Many cities all over Mesoamerica flourished in this period.

Copan in Honduras

Bonampak in southern Mexico

Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the Yucatan 

After the flowering of the Classic Period, the Maya began to gradually fall…

Post Classic Period 

Mayapan one of the last city’s of the Maya was built in the late Post Classic period around 1220 A.D. The city contains thousands of structures. Eventually abandoned in the middle of the 14th century. 

There are many theories of why the Maya abandoned their cities. Some say overpopulation, some say drought or war, but we still do not know exactly why.

Maya

Mayan Ruins

After thousands of years the Mayan civilization passed into history. The ancient settlements vanished, but traces of their existence in the form of structures are being discovered every year.

Did the ancient Mayans have a longer recorded history than previously thought? With the new discoveries, archaeologists are now claiming that the Mayans may have solidified their culture in the Pre Classic period.

New Discoveries 

Using LIDAR, a light detection and ranging technology. Archaeologists have been able to see through the jungle from above and scan the forest floor. 

This technology has changed the whole perception of the Mayan city Tikal. Archaeologists are now saying that ten to fifteen million people once lived in this region. 

LIDAR has revealed numerous previously undiscovered structures. Leading to new theories about the Maya.

The Maya People Still Live

The Ancient Mayans are gone, but the Maya people still live in modern day Central America, and Mexico. They carry on their past with oral tradition and ceremony. 

Traveling through the Yucatan and Guatemala, one can see the Maya people are still here.

Conclusion

Thankfully the Mayans were obsessed with their calendars and recording the dates of major events. They recorded astrological events, war related events, they also preserved lineages and recorded the dates kings and queens would ascend to the throne.

The history of the Mayan civilization survived on pottery locked away in secret burial chambers, hidden inside the pyramids. Survived on large carved monuments called “stela”, and the remaining codices that escaped the cultural destruction by the  Spanish.

Preserved by time and the aggressive jungle, hiding pyramids and almost the whole civilization under the trees. 

The Pre-Hispanic Mayan culture was the most advanced ancient civilization on the American continent, and existed for over 2,000 years from 800 BC to 1440 AD.

Are you intrigued by the mysteries of time and cosmic cycles? At MayanDay.com, we offer you a unique opportunity to tap into ancient wisdom. You can look up today's date in the Mayan Calendar right on our homepage to get a glimpse of its fascinating and intricate patterns.

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The Mayan Calendar System: An Introduction

The Maya civilization, predominantly based in modern-day Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize, was deeply interested in cycles of time. They devised a calendar system that not only marked solar and lunar cycles but also other celestial events. Unlike the Gregorian calendar that the modern world relies on, the Maya had multiple calendar systems, with the Tzolk'in or Cholq'ij being one of the most sacred.

The Tzolk'in Calendar: A 260-Day Sacred Cycle

The Tzolk'in calendar comprises 260 days, each with a unique combination of 20 day-signs (nawals) and 13 numbers. This calendar is not based on celestial bodies but rather on the divine and spiritual aspects of time, meant to guide individuals in their daily lives. It was, and still is, used for divination and planning significant life events.

The Nawals: Sacred Day-Signs

Each day in the Tzolk'in calendar has an associated nawal. These nawals are:

  1. Imox - Crocodile
  2. Iq' - Wind
  3. Aq'ab'al - Dawn/Dusk
  4. K'at - Net
  5. Kan - Serpent
  6. Kame - Death
  7. Kej - Deer
  8. Q'anil - Seed
  9. Toj - Fire
  10. Tz'i - Dog
  11. B'atz - Monkey
  12. E - Road
  13. Aj - Reed
  14. Ix - Jaguar
  15. Tz'ikin - Bird
  16. Ajmak - Forgiveness
  17. No'j - Knowledge
  18. Tijax - Mirror
  19. Kawoq - Storm
  20. Ajpu - Sun

The Numerals

  1. Jun- Beginning/Theme
  2. Keb'- Duality/Retraction
  3. Oxib'- Obstacle/Opening
  4. Kajib'- Container/Stagnation
  5. Job'- To Find/Breakthrough
  6. Wakib'- Balancing/Pondering
  7. Wukub'- Reflection/Collector
  8. Wajxaquib'- Return/Order
  9. B'elejeb'- Hidden/Result
  10. Lajuj'- Convergence/Pressure
  11. Ju'lajuj- Spreading/Dilution
  12. Kab'lajuj- Balance/Unexpected
  13. Oxlajuj- Ancestors/Accumulation

Look Up Your Mayan Calendar Birthday

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Discover More with "The Maya Calendar: An Archetypal Structure of Reality"

If you're eager to dive deeper into the mysteries of the Maya Calendar, don't miss out on our recently published book, "The Maya Calendar: An Archetypal Structure of Reality." This comprehensive guide explores the archetypal and symbolic dimensions of the calendar, offering a fresh perspective on its timeless wisdom.

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Did the Maya predict the world would end in 2012?

You have probably heard someone (or some people) saying that the world was meant to end on December 21, 2012. There was even a movie about it, though it wasn’t really a memorable movie. The date of December 21, 2012 was oddly specific, and was based on the Ancient Maya calendar, and was the day they believed the world was going to end.

Or at least, that’s how it was misinterpreted. Not entirely certain how that particular interpretation started, but once someone started saying the Maya predicted the end of the world, it was all people could talk about. Ancient prophies are almost as interesting as curses!

To make a long answer short, December 21, 2012 was not the end of the world as the Maya say it. Instead, it was the start of a new cycle of time, basically the same way that we would view a new year or, with the importance of this change, more like how we reacted to the new millennium.

Ok, so what’s the long answer?

Aztec

Aztec Calendar

 

The Maya had incredibly accurate time-keeping and calendars

The Maya were among the worlds best astronomers. They observed the movement of the heavens and understood how time changed along with the seasons. The Maya were among the few of the ancient cultures to develop the mathematical principle of the number 0, which allowed them to create an incredibly accurate understanding of time and astronomy. 

Time was incredibly important to the Maya and their astronomical observations allowed them to create an accurate calendar system. Time was so important that the monuments they carved and displayed always have the exact date they were dedicated, as well the dates of the important events/figures they are depicting.

Time wasn’t just used to chronicle important figures or events either. It was used to create astronomical calculations, understand the timing of the seasons and when to plant/harvest their crops, as well as in the practice of divination. 

Our understanding of the Maya calendar occurred in the 19th century, when Ernst Forstemann figured out how the Maya marked and understood time. Interestingly, this happened long before we figure out how to read Maya glyphs.   

The Maya calendars 

Mayan Calendar

The Maya used what archaeologists have named ‘the calendar round’ that is made of three interlocking cycles that repeat on a loop. This is opposed to how we normally think of time, as a straight line that moves forward, rather than repeats. 

The first of the cycles is made of 20 names, followed by a cycle of 13 numbers (which together make the 260-day sacred calendar), with the final cycle being the 365-day solar year. It takes roughly 52 years, or 18, 980 days, for the full cycle to run its course and new one to start. 

The Sacred Calendar (tzol’kin) runs for 260 days and is made of 20 named days associated with 13 numbers, which also had specific names. Each day is given a number, starting from 1 going through 13, until it starts again at 1. Along with the number, it was given a name from the list of 20 unique day-names. In this way, it created 260 unique named days. This calendar was used for understanding when rituals, ceremonies, and divination needed to take place.

The Solar Calendar (haab) was made of 365 days, with 19 unique months as opposed to our 12. The names of the months were recorded by Spanish Friars in after the Spanish Conquest. They are Pop, Wo, Sip, Sotz, Sek, Xul, Yaxkin, Mol, Chen, Yax, Sak, Keh, Mak, Kank’in, Muwan, Pax, Kayab, Kumku and Wayeb.

Most of the months held 20 days each, but the 19th month had only 5 (the wayeb). This final month of 5 days was considered a dangerous time, when the realms of the living and the dead were closest to each other.

The Maya recorded this time as a number+day+number+month (or 0.0.0.0). Used together, the sacred and solar calendars created a cycle that repeated itself every 52 years, or the full course of the Calendar Round. And while 52 years is a great way to understand one lifetime, it couldn’t be used to understand the ancient past or the far future.

The Long Count

Like the Calendar Round, the Long Count, the system the Maya used to understand long periods of history, was considered cyclical. They understood that time had always existed and always would but needed a specific date to base as the ‘start’ of their records.

Like us, the Maya used an absolute date to mark the beginning of their Long Count system. In western cultures, we use 0 CE as our marker, with history before that counting down to 0 and events since counting upwards. 

The Maya Long Count start date, or at least the start of great cycle is equivalent to August 11, 3114 BCE in the Gregorian calendar.

Each great cycle lasted 5128 years and was meant to repeat for eternity. The Long Count then counts from this start date and counts the k’in (days), winal (20 days), tun (360 days/18 winals), ka’tun (7,200 days/20 tuns), and bak’tun (144,000 days/20 ka’tuns). So, the start date mentioned above was the start of a new great cycle.

The end of the world on December 21, 2012

Illustration with a Flame maya calendar on fire.

So, what exactly happened on December 21, 2012? Since the Maya didn’t believe that time could end, would they have really predicted the end of the world? Of course they wouldn’t, and they didn’t.

Why was December 21, 2012 important then? Because it was the day that fell exactly 5128 years from August 11, 3114 BCE. It marked the day that the Long Count had completed its great cycle and a new one would start. The Maya would have celebrated this event a lot and it would have been a big deal. Similar to how we celebrated the start of a new millennium on New Years eve 1999. 

How Old Is The Mayan Calendar: Tracing Its Origins and Influence

Introduction

If you've ever dabbled in ancient history or astrology, you've probably heard of the Mayan calendar. But how old is it, really? How does it compare to the Gregorian calendar that we use today? For those familiar with the zodiac, you may find some parallels in the Mayan system as well. Let's dig into the rich history and multifaceted aspects of this remarkable timekeeping system.

Unveiling the Age

The Mayan calendar is believed to have originated around the 5th century BCE, although some scholars argue it could be even older. With its roots stretching back over 2,500 years, it is one of the oldest calendars known to humanity. The Mayan civilization reached its peak between 250 and 900 CE, but their intricate system of time measurement has survived the test of time.

The Tzolk'in and Haab'

Much like the zodiac is divided into twelve signs, the sacred Mayan calendar, known as the Tzolk'in, comprises 260 days divided into 20 day signs. Each day is associated with a unique combination of one of the 20 day signs and a number from 1 to 13, similar to how each zodiac sign is associated with specific periods and characteristics.

In addition to the Tzolk'in, the Mayans also used a solar calendar, known as the Haab', which consists of 365 days. The interlocking of these two calendars forms a Calendar Round, completing every 52 Haab' years.

Beyond Astrology: Spiritual and Practical Applications

In Mayan culture, the Tzolk'in serves both astrological and practical purposes. The day of one's birth in the Tzolk'in defines their individual strengths and weaknesses, similar to the way astrological signs are believed to influence one's personality in Western culture. Moreover, the Mayan calendar guided agricultural activities and ritual ceremonies, demonstrating its multipurpose nature.

Mayan Calendar in Modern Times

Remarkably, the Mayan calendar is not just a relic of the past; it is still used in some Mayan communities today. Its enduring influence speaks volumes about its scientific accuracy and spiritual profundity. The Mayan calendar has also captured the imagination of New Age communities, historians, and astrologers alike, drawing comparisons to zodiac-based astrology and other ancient timekeeping systems.

The Gregorian Comparison

The Gregorian calendar, introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII, is solar-based and aimed at civil timekeeping. While it serves primarily practical purposes, the Mayan calendar's role is both spiritual and practical. Like the zodiac, which has filtered into popular culture, the Mayan calendar transcends its original scope, providing layers of complexity and meaning that extend beyond the calculation of days.

Conclusion

The Mayan calendar's age-old wisdom and intricate structure make it a subject of continual study and fascination. Its origins may date back thousands of years, but its relevance remains intact in various contemporary circles. As we strive to understand time and our place within it, the Mayan calendar serves as a compelling guide, offering insights that are both ancient and evergreen.

Poking out of the lush green canopies of the Mayan jungles, are ancient ominous limestone structures. Rivaling the Pyramids of Egypt in size and in number, these overwhelming temples are still shrouded in mystery. These are the Mayan Pyramids. 

The Mayan pyramids are some of the largest and oldest structures in the world. Unlike the pyramids in Egypt, Mayan pyramids are ziggurat like step pyramids. With over 4,400 known mayan sites throughout Mexico and Central America, the Maya left a permanent mark in history. 

How Old Are the Mayan Pyramids?

Mayan Pyramids How Old

Tzol'kin Mayan Calendar

The Mayans civilization stretched over the span of thousands of years. Many kings and queens would go off on construction campaigns.

When the Mayan pyramids were first discovered, the pyramids had weathered severely. Some completely covered by the jungle, you would not even know you were standing on a pyramid. 

Many of the Mayan pyramids were built at different times. All over the Maya peninsula, there are cities that have still not been discovered.

Even well known Mayan archaeological sites continue to reveal more and more about the mysterious Mayans. Archaeologists are still uncovering new structures deep in the jungle, and the established knowledge and timeline is changing.

So how old are the Mayan pyramids? To answer this question, one needs to understand that the Mayan civilization was comprised of city states that were constantly at war with one another. City’s would rise and fall, change rulership, and literally be built on top of each other. 

Chichen Itza

How Old Mayan Pyramids Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza

For example at Chichen Itza the famous pyramid “El Castillo” was built or enhanced onto an existing pyramid the Maya had built centuries previous. 

Archaeologists dub this former pyramid the substructure, and it is said to be built somewhere around 600 A.D. Hundreds of years later around 900 A.D the Maya complete the pyramid in honor of the god “Kukulkan”, which is the Mayan version of the Aztec god “Quetzalcoatl”. 

The Pyramid itself is a calendar. With a total number of 365 steps, representing their solar calendar “The Haab”. The temple also tracks the spring and autumn equinoxes, and is positioned so perfectly that on these two days triangles of light illuminate the staircase to form what looks like a serpent crawling down the pyramid from the sky.

Pyramids of Palenque

Ancient Palenque City

Palenque

In the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico lies one of the most beautiful mayan sites. Famous for its history of rulers, monuments and detailed inscriptions. Some of the city’s earlier structures date back to around 226 B.C. 

Temple of Inscriptions 

Palenque Pyramid

Temple of Inscriptions

Built by the infamous Lord Pakal around 675 A.D in the late Classic period, this massive 9 level pyramid gets its name from the many detailed inscriptions. At the top of the temple like platform, carved into the stone is 180 years of Palenque’s history. The pyramid houses a tomb where Pakal’s body is encased in an elaborate sarcophagus. 

Temple of the Cross, Sun, and Foliated Cross

Palenque Pyramids Cross Sun and Foliated Cross

Temple of the Sun

After Pakal’s death his son Kan Bahlam erected the three temples, to commemorate his lineage. Constructed in 692 A.D, these three pyramids all facing a central court yard are very unique.

Pyramids at Tikal

jaguar, stains, look

Jaguar

In the Guatemalan lowland jungles, the Mayans built an enormous city. Tikal was a massive city state that reigned for centuries. Flourishing in the classic period from around 200 A.D to 900A.D. 

Recent discoveries of raised highways and aqueducts, are rewriting the history books about this ancient city. Archaeologists are now saying that the area was home to close to ten million people. 

Tens of thousands of structures hidden by the jungle overgrowth still remain uncovered. 

Temple of the Jaguar

Guatemala Pyramid Jaguar Temple

Temple of the Jaguar

Tikal’s Temple of the Jaguar was constructed around 732 A.D. The temple is 180 ft tall and has 9 levels, representing the nine levels of the Mayan underworld Xibalba. 

Jasaw Chan K’awiil ruled Tikal in the Classic period, and was buried the Temple of the Jaguar’s tomb. 

The temple gets its name from a carving of a king sitting on a jaguar throne. Ironically enough this area is one of the few remaining bio reserves that is home to many wild jaguars.

El Mirador’s La Danta

 

North of Tikal, deeper into the dense jungle stands one of the largest pyramids in the world, La Danta. 

At the site of El Mirador, archaeologists have uncovered amazing carvings and reliefs that portray scenes from the Popol Vuh. Many of the structures at El Mirador are Pre Classic Maya. El Mirador lasted between 1000 B.C.- 250 A.D

La Danta is the largest Mayan pyramid at 236 feet tall, by volume La Danta is the largest in the world at 99 million cubic feet. 

Uxmal and the Magician’s Pyramid

At the Mayan site of Uxmal in the Yucatan Peninsula, is the Magicians Pyramid. A fairly large pyramid that was decorated with lattice type design. Uxmal thrived around 600 to 1000 A.D. It is said that the god Itzamna built the pyramid overnight, giving it the name “Magicians Pyramid”.

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