By Gerardo Aldana y Villalobos, Edwin L. Barnhart
Archaeoastronomy and the Maya illustrates archaeoastronomical ways to historical Mayan cultural creation. The publication is contextualized via a background of archaeoastronomical investigations into Mayan websites, originating within the nineteenth century discovery of astronomical tables inside hieroglyphic books. Early twentieth century archaeological excavations published inscriptions carved into stone that still preserved astronomical documents, in addition to structure that was once outfitted to mirror astronomical orientations. those fabrics supplied the foundation of a transforming into professionalized archaeoastronomy, blossoming within the Seventies and increasing into fresh years. The chapters the following exemplify the advances made within the box throughout the early twenty first century in addition to the on-going range of methods, featuring new views and discoveries in old Mayan astronomy that end result from fresh reports of architectural alignments, codices, epigraphy, iconography, ethnography, and calendrics. greater than simply investigations of esoteric old sciences, experiences of historic Mayan astronomy have profoundly aided our figuring out of Mayan worldviews. strategies of time and house, meanings encoded in spiritual artwork, intentions underlying architectural alignments, or even tools of political legitimization are all illuminated in the course of the examine of Mayan astronomy
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Extra info for Archaeoastronomy and the Maya
2 Another site within the narrow latitudinal band of the 260-day zenith passage interval may yet be found that has this characteristic. 3 This distinction “poses the question of the greater antiquity of this division of the year by means of the counting of the days instead of the precise observation of the astronomical equinoxes, which is rather difficult to make for early astronomers” (Broda 1993: 280). 4 The Chocolá data suggest a different interpret ation of these horizon-marked sunrises and the significance of the related dates, as will be discussed below.
22 The site orientation is to Volcán Tacana on the north; Izapa Group B is oriented to sunrise atop Volcán Tajumulco on summer solstice (Malmström 1978). 23 At the equinox, where the horizontal speed of the sun is at its maximum, no distinct horizon marker is apparent. But Aveni has noted that “the sun sets in the same direction all over the Maya world on the days that fall two uinals before [and after] the zenith passage”(Aveni 2001: 249), which is on the equinoxes at the latitude of Chocolá. 0 4 Ajaw 3 Kank’in, will occur on December 21, AD 2012, using the GMT correlation constant of 584,283 (Aveni 2001: 210).
The sun’s course south of nadir passage to winter solstice and back takes 5 winal (100 days) while that north of zenith passage to summer solstice and back requires 5 winal and 5 days (105 days). What disturbs the symmetry are the five “extra” days of the sun’s journey north of zenith passage – the days regarded throughout Mesoamerica as “uncounted,” “nameless,” and “leftover” (Thompson 1950: 106, 117–118; León-Portilla 1988: 47, 145). Given the interest of the ancient Maya in finding symmetrical, harmonious and whole number relationships – that is, order – in nature (see Thompson 1950: 150–151; Carlson 1981; Farriss 1987; Powell 1997), ancient observers of the sun at the Chocolá horizon would likely have been impressed by the division of time between zenith and nadir passage into four 20-day (winal) periods, and by the symmetry of the 260-day (13 winal) journey to and from winter solstice in contrast to the asymmetry of the 265day (13 winal + 5 k’in) journey north of nadir passage to and from summer solstice.