I have been invited to two sessions at this year’s TAG conference in Bournemouth. The abstract of the first paper can found here. My second abstract is for the session The material dimension of cognition: a coalescence of the pragmatic and the significative milieux:
The necromantic ordering of days
Time-keeping and calendars emerge from cognitive interaction with digits, animal migrations, aging, pregnancy, vegetative cycles, sun and phases of the moon, the hydrological cycle, i.e. from objects and the events they generated. Once established calendars also affect the way we perceive time.
The Maya calendars are necromantic devices. They are objects formed by people, long time dead, but whose past contributions affect temporalities long time thereafter, even in a completely different context as in the case of the global internet “2012-phenomenon.” The Maya calendars were designed to order the days, i.e. the passing of time. However, their usage changed after great upheavals occurred in the 10th century AD. The accumulative time of the Long Count disappeared in favor of the cyclical Short Count. For at least 1000 years the “divine kingship” (ajawlel) was associated with the Long Count until the cessation of dated monuments at the beginning of the 10th century AD, an event that coincided with the so-called Maya collapse. From the structure of the Long Count there is no evidence that it was cyclical as is commonly believed. In the Postclassic period the Short Count dominated among the Yucatec Maya and it did so until the Spanish conquest of Noj Petén in 1697. This calendar consisted of cycles of 256 years and its importance in the Postclassic coincided with myths of previous ages. Knowledge of earlier history and perception of ruins enforced an understanding of previous creations and their associations with repeated periods of time.