The lunar records have from the very beginning of the correlation problem been used to check various proposed calendar correlations. Most of the lunar records are anchored to a progression of 29.53-day cycles. However, what should be needed is an eclipse associated with a date. The Dresden Codex Eclipse Table could be important here but as mentioned before this table cannot be matched with a historical eclipse. There is, however, one Classic period inscription that probably mentions an eclipse. This is Stela 1 at Poco Winik. Thompson notes that the Martinez equation is off by five days if this inscription indeed records an eclipse. Hence, “the one record from the Classic period, then, with the potential for identifying a unique date astronomically does not conform to any version of the GMT. Rather than call into question the GMT, this has led to speculations about the authenticity of the record itself; more often than not, however, the Poco Winik data is left outside of the discussion” (p 40). This is quite remarkable although not uncommon in science. When a model is believed to be more accurate than the actual data, it should be scrutinized.
During the past century some Mayanists have argued that “planetary conjunctions, maximum elongations, heliacal rises, and more …[are]… the explicit or implicit referent behind inscriptional dates. Such events are often portrayed as evidence corroborating the validity of the GMT” (p 40). Thompson argues that the date 184.108.40.206.0 1 Ajaw 8 K’ayab on the Hieroglyphic Stairway at Naranjo is related to a rare astronomical event. There is a distance number (220.127.116.11) that leads up to this date. This equals 16,352 days or 28 synodical revolutions of Venus and almost 41 synodical revolutions of Jupiter. For this reason Thompson assumes that this Long Count date refers to a planetary conjunction. However, Aldana points out that the 1 Ajaw date also is a katun ending and this is what is celebrated. Thompson also believes that there was a “Venus glyph” in the inscriptions (no “Jupiter glyph” is proposed). What he believes is that the glyph for Venus actually reads EK’. Although this logographic element refers to celestial bodies (or stars), in this context it is actually part of a name of a historical person (Na Batz’ Ek’).
The interpretation of this glyph as Venus was once popular and formed part of the “Star War” interpretation when it was believed that warfare was ritually timed by various positions of Venus. However, Aldana has shown before that “the astronomically driven pattern was not corroborated by the increased contextual data made available by the hieroglyphic decipherment” (p 41). Astronomical interpretations of hieroglyphs and recorded events are difficult to accept today.
Aldana also discusses David Kelley’s 663,310 correlation that is 216 years later than Thompson’s. Apart from falling outside the range of possible C14 dating accuracy it suits some of Kelley’s own criteria, such as that astronomical data corroborated with inscriptions. Kelley never gave up the idea that the tzolkin had changed over the centuries apart from a possible calendar reform in the Mixtec codices in AD 934. However, Kelley appeals “to trans-Pacific contact for the basis of the Mayan and Aztec calendar” (p 44). This basis is found in Hindu astrology and “the extreme character of this part of his argument and the substantial deviation of his correlation from the GMT have left Kelley’s more salient criticisms to fall on mostly deaf ears” (p 44).
Aldana discusses some more recent attempts to find a correlation. Brian Wells and Andreas Fuls returns to the Dresden Codex Venus Table and sees the 18.104.22.168.0 1 Ajaw 18 K’ayab date as Venus’s heliacal rise. Fuls also addresses Poco Winik’s eclipse record but in his correlation the Long Count date is one day before a partial eclipse that never was visible from Mesoamerica (!). However, he introduces a new data set into the correlation problem. This is Lacadena’s research on stylistic changes of glyphs that “argues that the GMT requires a break in the rate of change. This break is removed, however, with the WF [Wells-Fuls] correlation” (p 46).
We are near the end of Aldana’s essay now and I will summarize his argument and conclusions in the final post. To be continued…