The cosmos has, since time immemorial, been a source of wonder and contemplation. Different cultures have gazed upon this vast expanse, hoping to decode its mysteries and understand its implications for human life. The Western Zodiac and the Mayan Tzolk'in are two such intricate systems that have arisen from this celestial curiosity. But how do these astrological charts from disparate worlds connect, and where do they diverge?

Old sky map

Shared Origins in Nature's Patterns:

Similarities...

1. Rooted in Observation: Both systems are primarily observational. The Western Zodiac is based on the movement of the sun through the constellations over a year, while the Tzolk'in is tied to the natural cycles, including the agricultural rhythms and lunar periods.

2. Archetypal Symbols: At their core, both the Zodiac and Tzolk'in offer archetypal symbols that aim to describe human nature and life experiences. Be it the balancing scales of Libra or the nurturing essence of the sign Aj (Reed), these systems provide frameworks to understand oneself and the world.

3. Predictive and Reflective: Both systems are utilized to forecast events, assess compatibility, and provide introspective insights, guiding individuals on their life paths.

Differences...

1. Calendar Construction: The Western Zodiac divides the year into twelve months based on the solar cycle, with each sign corresponding to a month. In contrast, the Tzolk'in operates on a 260-day calendar, representing a combination of 20 day-signs and 13 galactic numbers.

2. Cultural Significance: The Western Zodiac, with its Greco-Roman roots, is rife with myths and stories from this pantheon. The Tzolk'in, on the other hand, plays a significant role in the Mayan cosmology, deeply intertwined with their rituals, ceremonies, and understanding of time.

3. Complexity and Layers: While both systems are complex in their own right, the Mayan system layers the 20 day-signs with 13 numbers, leading to a nuanced and intricate reading. The Western Zodiac, though detailed, tends to be more linear in its approach, focusing on planetary positions within the 12 signs.

A carved Mayan calendar on textured background

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Intertwining Narratives:

Beyond the basic structural comparisons, there's a deeper narrative interplay. Both the Western Zodiac and the Mayan Tzolk'in provide not just a means of divination but also a lens through which civilizations understand the universe's structure. They both hint at an ancient belief: As above, so below.

The Western Zodiac and the Mayan Tzolk'in, though sprung from distinct roots, share the human desire to understand and connect with the cosmos. They encapsulate a civilization's efforts to explain life, destiny, and the universe's greater design. Whether one is drawing parallels between a sun sign and a day-sign or merely appreciating them as separate entities, the beauty lies in the realization that our ancestors, though miles apart, gazed at the same skies with wonder, hope, and reverence.

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.

Discovering your birthday’s meaning can be life-changing. It can help you to understand yourself better and give you direction for your future. With our authentic readings, we can help you do just that.

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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. 

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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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.

Mayan Calendar Gen 2 Graphic

First, a fire ceremony

On January 25th 2020 fires all across Central America were lit, to celebrate a sacred day in the Mayan Calendar “Wajxaqib Batz” or 8 Monkey.

Passed down through thousands of years of oral tradition, the Mayan Calendar is still used throughout Central America and Southern Mexico.

It is on this day “Wajxaqib Batz” or 8 Monkey that new Mayan day-keepers known as Aj'qij are initiated.

As a spiritual guide for the community the Aj'qij perform fire ceremonies, readings, to preserve the Mayan Calendar.

There are multiple Mayan calendars

There are actually many different “Mayan Calendars” that all have their own specific meaning and use.

All together they work like gears in a machine, like cogs on a wheel they fit together to create a system of cycles.

Tzol'Kin

Mayan Pyramids How Old

Tzol'kin Mayan Calendar

The Tzol'kin or Chol'qi is the spiritual calendar of the Maya and literally translates to “order of days”.

This 260-day calendar is made up of 20 "archetypes" (also called Nawals)...

-Monkey (B'atz')              

-Path (E')

-Transformation (Aj)

-Jaguar (I'x)

-Eagle (Tz'ikin)

-Vulture (Ajmaq)

-Knowledge (No'j)

-Flint (Tijax)

-Storm (Kawuq)

-Sun (Junajpu)

-Crocodile (Imox)

-Wind (Iq')

-Dawn (Aq'ab'al)

-Net (K'at)

-Serpent (Kan)

-Death (Kame)

-Deer (Kej)

-Rabbit/Ripening (Q'anil)

-Payment (Toj)

-Dog (Tz'i')

...and 13 numbers or intentions.

1 Initiation (Jun)

2 Duality (Keb')

3 Action/ Multiplication (Oxib')

4 Stability (Kajib')

5 Empowerment (Job')

6 Flow (Wakib')

7 Reflection (Wukub')

8 Justice/ Harmony (Wajxaquib')

9 Patience/ Transformation (Belejeb')

10 Manifestation (Lajuj)

11 Resolution (Julajuj)

12 Understanding (Kab'lajuj)

13 Ascension (Oxlajuj)

The Nawals and Numbers combine

In collaboration, these 20 archetypes and 13 numbers create 260 unique days.

This calendar is used to determine ones character or personality, life path, and destiny.

The Tzol'kin Calendar is an understanding of time as consciousness for the Maya, and with each new day comes ruling energy or spirit.

An interesting fact about the Mayan culture is that the day you are born, in the Tzol'kin Calendar would be your name.

The Haab Calendar

Mayan Calendar

The Haab Calendar

The Haab is a solar calendar of 365 days, similar to the Gregorian, is made up of 18—20 day months with a short 5 day month at the end called the “Wayeb”.

The first day of every Haab month starts at 0, which is also described as the seating of the month and ends at 19.

Each month has it's own significance and purpose in the Mayan year.

Month's of the Haab

Haab months

The Haab Months

-Pop (Mat)

-Uo' (Frog)

-Zip (Red)

-Zotz (Bat)

-Tzec (no translation)

-Xul (Dog)

-Yaxkin (Green/ First Sun)

-Mol (Water/ Jade)

-Chen (Cave)

-Yax (Green)

-Zac (White)

-Keh (Red)

-Mac (Close)

-Kankin (Yellow Sun)

-Muwan (Moaning Bird)

-Pax (Planting)

-Kayab (Turtle)

-Kumku (Ripen)

-Wayeb (5 Nameless/ Unfortunate days)

Both the Tzol'kin and the Haab are used in conjunction. Together they create an approximately 52-year cycle before repeating.

This phasing of days and calendars is a common theme with Mayan time science and lends itself to a broad philosophy that there are cycles within cycles...

Supplementary Series (Night Lords/Lunar)

The Night Lord System is a 9-day cycle, that is associated with 9 “Lords of the Night”.

Also referred to as the “G series” the names of these 9 Lords are unknown.

Also part of the supplementary series is a 29 and 30-day Lunar Calendar.

Little was known about these measurements made by the Maya. Until John E.

Teeple an American researcher, discovered a correlation between glyph's at the Mayan site of Palenque.

The Long Count

Calendar

Long Count

The Long Count Calendar is a 5,125-year cycle, that encompasses all of the calendars in a  written form. 

There is no known Mayan word for this calendar system, so the nickname “Long Count” was given based on the size of the cycle and detail used to record the date.

Usually carved into stone monuments known as “stella's” these dates are found throughout Mayan Archaeological sites.

In fact, the earliest recorded Long Count date was discovered in an Olmec site, which predates the Mayans.

The Mayans used the Long Count to record dates within this cycle of 5,125 years, using 5 numeral systems.

20 day's or K'in= 1 Uinal (20 days)

18 Uinal's= 1 Tun (360 days)

20 Tun's= 1 Katun (7,200 days)

20 Katun's= 1 Baktun (144,000 days)

13 Baktun's= The entire Long Count Cycle

The Long Count Cycle in total is 13 “Baktun's” long 1,872,000 days or 5,125 years.

Written in descending order from largest to smallest; these dates were recorded vertically, starting with the corresponding Baktun.

Following these 5 Long Count numerals, you would have the Haab, Tzol'kin, and Night Lord dates.

Creation Date and 2012

Aztec

Aztec Calendar

The Maya would record dates using this system in relevance to a “creation date”, which has been theorized to be August 11th 3114 B.C.  Or 4 Ahau 8 Kumku.

In Mayan Mythology this  date is the 4th creation of the Universe. 5,125 years later is where we get the date December 21st, 2012.

Because of the 2012 phenomena, most people think that the Mayan Calendar ended on December 21st 2012. In reality, the Mayan Calendar does not have an ending, it is a cyclical calendar, after the end of one cycle begins a new one.

The Dream-spell Calendar and Jose Arguelles

Created by Jose Arguelles in the late 1980s the Dream-spell or 13 moon calendar is based on the Mayan Tzol'kin calendar. Arguelles transformed the calendar to fit a New Age style and adopted new concepts such as the I Ching.

The Dream-spell also takes into account a “time-shift” and differs from the Tzol'kin by 52 days.

Although there is much controversy over its legitimacy, it has gathered many followers and even garnered more attention than the traditional calendar.

Use of The Mayan Calendar today

mayan

Temple of Kukulkan

Traveling to Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, one can see that the calendar is still tightly interwoven into the culture.

Thousands of Archaeological sites still remain including some of the largest pyramids in the world.

Many people are involved in the study of the Mayan culture and its calendars.

The 2012 phenomena, even though discrediting the calendar for a fictitious apocalyptic event, has ironically injected interest from all over the world.

Now post December 21st, 2012 people are practicing and using the Mayan Calendar in new and interesting ways.

Even though the Mayan Civilization is ancient history, the Mayan people are not, and still carry on their traditions today.

Civilization

The Mayan Civilization was a society that existed in Southern Mexico and Central America. Their existence has been uncovered through many archaeological discoveries.

The ruins of the Mayan Civilization still exist today, yet a large part of their knowledge, structures, and culture has been lost. This has created many questions about the origin of the Mayans, and how they became as advanced as they were.

Thousands of Years Ago

Pyramid

Mayan Pyramid

Before becoming the great Mayan civilization, the Maya people were hunter gatherers scattered throughout Mesoamerica. Evidence of this is found all over Central America and Southern Mexico.

In the beginning of the Pre Classic period the Maya were still farming settlements. Growing domesticated crops as early as 2500 B.C. such as vegetables and spices. Most famously corn or “maize”.

The Mayans believed that humans were created from corn and worshiped the maize god. This relationship with corn fueled their agricultural drive from the beginning, and played a major role in their development.

The question of when the Mayan civilization initially began remains up in the air and will probably remain that way for a long time. Some scholars estimate that the Maya formed as early as 2500 B.C. 

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact time for the emergence of the Mayan culture as an independent cultural identity. There are new discoveries every year that seem to change the perception of their timeline.

Around 600 B.C the Maya began creating larger settlements in the lowland jungles of Guatemala. The city Nakbe is one of the earliest known major sites for the Maya in this region. Its neighbor, El Mirador flourished around the same time as well. 

Before the Maya 

Monument

Mayan Monument

The Mayan culture arose through a series of cultures which developed around the region. Their predecessors, the Olmec and Zapotec, had been in southern Mexico long before the Maya. 

The Olmec established their culture around the 16th century B.C and were known for carving gigantic heads. 

The Zapotec civilization in the Oaxaca region began just before the Maya in 700 B.C. One of the largest cities in ancient Mesoamerica was built by the Zapotec.

The Pre Classic period is a time when the people of Central America are in their most rudimentary forms, and when the Maya civilization appears on the scene. The period is also one of cultural sharing and complex relationships between neighboring cultural groups.

Historic Influence

Aztec

Tenochtitlan

The Mayan Civilization had a great influence on the cultures of their time. Their influence and understanding of astronomy and agriculture has had major impacts on the world. 

The Mayan civilization had a surplus of knowledge, which was one of the reasons why they were able to flourish and become so impressive.

From pyramids to monuments, they constructed vast cities with architectural marvels. They built aqua ducts and raised roads. Archaeologists are now saying that at one point the city of Tikal held millions of people.

The Mayan civilization had a religious systems and a complex cosmology. Their understanding of astronomy and time was very important. 

Stelae

Stela

Tikal Stela 31

They recorded dates on stelae, which are large stone monuments that were erected throughout Mesoamerica. This is one of the main reasons archaeologists know so much about the Maya, because of their relentless obsession with recording time. 

These stone monuments depict dates associated with Mayan cosmology, and when rulers ascended to the throne or conquered other cities. 

Dresden Codex

codex

Dresden Codex

Still our understanding of the Mayan civilization is so limited because many texts were burned by the Spanish in the 15th century A.D.

Few written texts remain, such as the Dresden Codex. This is the  oldest written book found in the americas. The colored pamphlet style text, folds open Mayan history and astronomical charts. 

The dates found in the codex correlate to the planet Venus and phases of the lunar cycle. It also shows an assortment of gods and religious calendar dates.

Impact in the Region

The Mayan Civilization had an impact on the surrounding civilizations that came after, like the Aztec, Toltec, and the Mixtec.

These cultures adopted a lot of the knowledge from the Mayans. The Aztecs continued to keep the same calendars. Although they changed the names and glyphs, they continued to track and add to the same system of time. 

The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl is actually a reinvention of the previous Mayan God Kukulkan, the winged serpent. 

The Maya civilization spans over 2000 years and is the oldest civilization in the Americas.The Mayans were as mysterious as it gets. The reasons behind their downfall remains unknown…

Extra

Although the Mayans are not mentioned in the bible, there is a possibility that they were the source of the legend of the "Wandering Jew". Some dialects of mayan have distinct jewish like sounds.

The Purpose of Mayan Pyramids: what were they used for?

If you're keen on diving deeper into the intricacies of the Maya world, a visit to our homepage at MayanDay.com will give you today's Maya Calendar date—a vital part of their cosmology. But another monumental aspect of their world, both literally and metaphorically, were the pyramids.

Pakal's Tomb in Palenque

King Pakal, shown in the tomb of one of the most iconic mayan pyramids, the Temple of Inscriptions

King Pakal, shown in the tomb of one of the most iconic mayan pyramids, the Temple of Inscriptions

Nestled within the dense jungles of Chiapas, Mexico, the ancient city of Palenque serves as a testament to Mayan ingenuity and spirituality. Among its architectural wonders is the Temple of Inscriptions, a pyramid specially commissioned by King Pakal. This structure is renowned for preserving a wealth of Mayan glyphs, bas-reliefs, and carvings.

At the temple's core, archaeologist Alberto Ruz unveiled a remarkable find: the tomb of Lord Janaab K'inich Pakal, the great king of Palenque. Encased in a grand sarcophagus, Pakal's burial chamber is a treasure trove of Mayan art and glyphs. Notable among the artifacts is an intricately crafted jade mask, adding another layer of mystery and reverence to this extraordinary discovery.

Not Just Tombs

Contrary to popular belief, the Mayan pyramids were not primarily intended as burial places like their Egyptian counterparts. Although some of these structures do contain tombs, they served a more complex array of functions.

Platforms for the Gods

The most immediate purpose of these pyramids was religious. They served as platforms where priests could get closer to the gods and perform sacrifices, rituals, and other religious ceremonies. The staircases often aligned with celestial events, connecting the Earth with the cosmos in a physical and symbolic way.

Centers of Community and Governance

Beyond their religious function, the pyramids were also the centerpieces of Mayan cities and were surrounded by other important structures like ball courts, palaces, and plazas. They essentially served as the central point around which the community revolved, acting not just as places of worship but also as hubs of social, political, and economic activity.

Astronomical Significance

The Maya were keen astronomers, and many of their pyramids are designed to align with celestial bodies and events. The Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza, for instance, is renowned for the snake-like shadow it casts during the equinox, symbolizing the feathered serpent god descending from the heavens.

Calendrical Relevance

The steps and tiers of some pyramids also encoded the complex Mayan calendrical systems, like the Tzolk'in and Haab. These were not just buildings; they were stone representations of time itself.

Conclusion

The Mayan pyramids were multi-dimensional constructs that served as the physical and metaphysical centers of their cities. From facilitating spiritual communion to acting as astronomical observatories, these pyramids are a testament to the rich and complex life of the Maya civilization.

To expand your knowledge of the Mayan world and its complex calendar system, visit MayanDay.com or check out our book "The Maya Calendar: An Archetypal Structure of Reality."

This article is sponsored by MayanDay.com, where you can find resources to expand your knowledge of the Maya Calendar and the Maya world at large.

 

 

 

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