Anthropologists from Tulane University may have finally solved the mystery of the 819-day calendar used by the ancient Maya civilization.
A study published in Ancient Mesoamerica suggests that the cycles in the Maya calendar cover a much larger timeframe than previously thought.
Anthropologists John Linden and Victoria Bricker found that by increasing the calendar length to 20 periods of 819 days, a pattern emerges that matches the synodic periods of all visible planets, including Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Before this discovery, researchers believed that the calendar referred to four cycles of 819 days, but that time span didn’t match the synodic periods of all the visible planets.
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It turns out that it takes 20 cycles of 819 days, which is about 45 years, for the calendar to align with the synodic periods of all visible planets.
Within these 20 cycles, each planet goes through some number of synodic periods a whole number of times.
Mercury has a synodic period that happens a whole number of times within a single cycle, but for the other planets, it takes multiple cycles to complete a whole number of synodic periods.
By combining the cycles, it becomes possible to predict the placement of the planets in the sky. The knowledge behind this is connected to important dates and celebrations in the ancient Maya culture.
Linden and Bricker suggest that Maya astronomers who created the 819-day count envisioned it as a larger calendar system that could be used for predictions of all the visible planet’s synodic periods.
This research is crucial for understanding how the ancient Maya studied astronomy and their advanced understanding of the night sky.
The discovery highlights how the Maya used their knowledge to create a sophisticated calendar system that not only tracked time but also allowed them to predict the positions of the visible planets in the sky.
This breakthrough is part of a decades-long quest to comprehend the complexity of ancient Maya calendars, and it provides valuable insights into the astronomical knowledge and practices of the ancient Maya civilization.
Source Space Chatter
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