Posted by: Johan Normark | November 15, 2010

2012: The Maya calendar correlation problem pt 6 – the highland data

In 1950 Thompson argued that there is continuity between known Aztec double dates, the contemporary Guatemalan highland calendars, and the Landa equation. He referred to three independent Aztec sources that put 13 Coatl (13 Chikchan) on July 26, 1553. Here there is a one day discrepancy between the Aztec calendar and Landa’s equation that set July 26 on 12 K’an. However, there were apparently several calendars in operation concurrently during the Postclassic time. Even Thompson mentions that the Mixe count varies from village to village. These can differ by five days from the highland Maya calendars. Aldana says that “we are left to wonder whether the 1 to 5 day errors are really that, or whether they have resulted from various shifts over time that produced a net ‘1 to 5 day error’ given an appropriate selection of data” (p 38).

Mayanists have assumed that the 260-day calendar (tzolkin) has remained continuous but that the 365-day calendar (haab) has arbitrarily been pushed around. Aldana believes this assumption depends on the fact that the haab generates a difference of at least 43 days over 400 years since the Spanish contact. Aldana rightly points out that these two calendars cannot be treated separately since we are dealing with the Calendar Round. We “have to look at the difference between, for example, the recorded 7 Ben 1 Pop and the reconstructed 5 Chuwen 3 K’ayab. While it looks like a slip of two days in the chol qiij [tzolkin], or a slip of 43 days in the haab’, when we consider the Calendar Round as a unit, the difference becomes an ‘error’ of 2,600 days…” (p 38).

This rather short blog post will be followed by a longer one. It will discuss Aldana’s take on the celestial corroborations. For the 2012-minded people with little to no knowledge about the Maya it may come as a surprise that we simply do not have much astronomical data from the Maya apart from the Dresden Codex. Very little of the hieroglyphic record “can be unequivocally identified as celestial. The tremendous exceptions from the Classic period, of course, are lunar records” (p 39). To be continued…

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