Archive for June 12th, 2010

June 12, 2010


by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Mayan Calender

Many of you may recognize the title date, as the day the world ends. This popular notion is from the Mayan Long Calendar. On 12/20/2012 we will be: and rollover to on 12/21/2012. Pretty nifty, right on the winter solstice. Now according to Mayan stories the last creation was on the previous time. But what is the Mayan Long calendar and what do the numbers: mean?

The Mayans reckon their calendar into 5 parts (hence: 12,19,19,17,19). The last number is called a K’in and 1 K’in = 1 day. The Mayans being rather astute in their calculations use a system that is roughly base-20 (as opposed to our base-10). So they count from zero to 19. So K’in in their system would be the units. Next “digit” up is the winal which is equal to 20 k’in (or 20 days). After that, the next number is called a tun which is equal to … only 18 winals (or 360 days). Next, we have the K’atun which is equal to 20 winals (or 7200 days). Finally, we arrive at the B’aktun which equal to 20 k’atun(or 144,000 days). So, when they write the long date: they really mean:

(12*144,000) +   (19*7200) + (19*360) + (17*20) + (19 *1) days = 1,871,999 days or 5128.76 years.  So they are counting from the date:  26-February-3117 BCE using the Gregorian calendar and projecting it backwards well prior to its creation. Ok, you might argue that is almost the vernal equinox.  Hmmm. Wait what is the date of 12/21/2012 in the Mayan Long Calendar: .  This is not the end of their calendar, as has been commonly expounded by many people hyping new-age kinds of things or books or apocalyptic movies or Sara Palin as President. In fact, there are 7 full B’aktuns left in their calendar, meaning the human race can count on living another 33,139.73 yrs (no worries until the year 35,151 or so). While 12/21/2012 may appear to be an unlucky day to triskadecaphobiacs [people who fear the number 13], it does not mean an end to the Mayan calendar and certain doom.

Now wait a minute, the Mayan story said, that the last time, their calendar was was the creation date. Ok, let’s ignore the fact that there must have been  1,871,998 prior days before creation (since we are not starting from But lets go with it and see where we end up, shall we?

Let’s start at 12/20/2012 which will be the next in the Mayan Long Calendar. Ok, we can now infer that the time prior must have been 38,268 years from 12/20/2012. So subtracting  38,268 from 2012 and allowing for the fact that there was no year ZERO, then in 36257 BCE,  at or near the winter solstice, the world was created. Assuming 20 years per generation (as we established in a prior blog), we find that we each have 1913 or 1914 prior generations, that we will need to account for in our family tree [direct line backwards].

Well I have about  another 1900+ generations to research, but at least I can now relax, now that I know the world will not end on 12/20/2012. I was feeling pressured to finish my research in the next 2.5 years. Now that I know the Mayan Calendar will not run out  for another 33,000+ years, I know I have plenty of time to research and publish the family tree.

I am not certain why they broke the base-20  on the tun (it being only 18 times the winal). But the 360 days in a year is only an error of 1.4% which is as good or better than the Julian calendar and if we consider they started using their calendar 2/26/3117 BCE, then I think we can say they were pretty good mathematicians and astronomers.

Why did the Mayans and Egyptians orient their pyramids to point to  Orion’s Belt? Could they possibly have known that our solar system is in the Milky Way Galaxy’s Orion-Cygnus spiral arm? Why did they pick ( as the creation date)? That equates to  Sagittarius which according to NASA’s website,  the center of the Milky Way galaxy is in the general direction of Sagittarius constellation. Were they good astronomers or did they just believe that passing the winter solstice is when things get created?

I guess those will be musings for another time!

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