08/11/2005: More Calendar Days...
In yet another part from “Collapse” by Jared Diamond about Paleoarchaeology and the incredible science about ancient societies, here are another of the fascinating information gathering and Calendar dating techniques.
Click on the "more" button to read about the Maya Long Count Calendar.
The famous Maya Long Count Calendar begins on August 11, 3114 B.C. – just as our own Calendar begins on January 1 of the first year of the Christian era. We know the significance to us of that day – zero of our calendar: its’ the supposed beginning of the year in which Christ was born. Presumably the Maya also attached some significance to their own day zero, but we don’t know what it was. The first preserved Long Count date is only A.D. 197 for a monument in the Maya area and 36 B.C. outside the Maya area, indicating that the Long Count calendar’s day – zero was backdated to August 11, 3114 B.C. long after the facts; there was no writing anywhere in the New World then, nor would there be for 2,500 years after that date.
Our calendar is divided into units of days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries, and millennia: for example, the date of February 19, 2003, on which I wrote the first draft of this paragraph, means the 19th day of the second month in the third year of the first decade of the first century of the third millennium beginning with the birth of Christ.
Similarly, the Maya Long Count calendar named dates in units of days (kin), 20 days (uinal), 360 days (tun), 7,200 days or approximately 20 yrs (katunn), and 144,000 days or approximately 400 years (baktun). All of Maya history falls into baktuns 8, 9, and 10.
Karen on 08.11.05 @ 07:41 AM CST