The Tzolkin consisted of 13 months each 20 days long, and the Haab of 18 months each 20 days long, and five rest days, thus making 365 days. The date was written using both rounds. For example, "6 lk 10 Camber" might be the same as if we wrote "20 June 30 Gemini." (Haab - Calendar round / 20 June, and Tzolkin - Sacred round / 30 Gemini.) As both thesewheels turned so passed the Mayan years. Every 52 years the cycle began again. It was on one of these auspicious years that Cortez landed, thus giving credence to his god image.
Archeologists - claim that the Maya began counting time as of August 31, 3114 B.C. This is called the zero year and is likened to January 1, AD. All dates in the Long Count begin there, so the date of the beginning of this time cycle is written 13-0-0-0-0. That means 13 cycles of 400 years will have passed before the next cycle begins, which is December 27, 2012. The new cycle will begin as 1-0-0-0-0.
A day was called a "kin", and still is today. A 20 day month was a "uinal", one solar year was a "tun", 20 tuns a "katun", and 20 katuns were a "baktun", 13 of which take us back to the August 13, 3114 B.C. date.Another notable date is 9-9-2-4-8 or July 29, 615 AD when the great King of Palenque, Lord Pakal ascended to the throne.These dates are carved in stone throughout the Mayan territory, and the numbers can be seen by anyone. Using a vestigial system (they counted all the fingers and toes) and only three characters (we use ten) the Maya could string together very large numbers, these were read from the bottom up. So Pakal ascended on 9-9-2-4-8, that would read:
The Maya also understood the concept of zero, an wrote it like a shell.
These numbers, if we begin at August 13, 3114 BC, will give us a date in the
7th century that corresponds to the date Pakal took the throne in Palenque.
9 baktuns - 3600 years
9 katuns - 180 years 2 t
January 1, 2000 would be written 12-19-6-1-0 in the Long Count. The Sacred Round would be 9 Ahau and the Haab designation would be 8 Kankin. Thus the Calendar Round would be 9 Ahau 8 Kankin. For the Maya there was a time for everything and every thing had it's place in time. The priest used this to their advantage; due to their abilities to interpret the heavens and calendar,they could control the daily activities of the populace. Knowing when to plant, when to harvest, the rainy and dry seasons, etc. gave them total power and control. Their comprehension of time, seasons, and cycles was immense.
Maya priests observed the positions of the sun, moon, and stars. They made tables predicting eclipses and the orbit of the planet Venus.
The priests also used mathematics and astronomy to develop two kinds of calendars. One was a sacred almanac of 260 days. Each day was named with one of 20 day names and a number from 1 to 13. Each of the 20 day names had a god or goddess associated with it.
The priests predicted good or bad luck by studying the combinations of gods or goddesses and numbers. The Maya also had a calendar of 365 days, based on the orbit of the earth around the sun. These days were divided into 18 months of 20 days each, plus 5 days at the end of the year.
The Maya considered these last 5 days of the year to be extremely unlucky. During that period they fasted, made many sacrifices, and avoided unnecessary work.
The Maya Indians of southern Mexico and Central America used mathematics and astronomical observations to formulate two kinds of calendars--a sacred almanac of 260 days and a solar calendar of 365 days.