Article ID: CBB001252039

The Sidereal Year and the Celestial Caiman: Measuring Deep Time in Maya Inscriptions (2011)


Maya hieroglyphic texts contain numerous intervals of time that count both backward and forward from a fixed point of historical reference to specific mythological dates, often thousands of years in the past or future. This article considers the evidence that these intervals incorporated precise astronomical calculations of solar, lunar, and planetary movements, with a substantial emphasis on the measurement of the sidereal year and its ability to shift the seasonal position of the Sun among the stars. This analysis requires a specific methodology for assessing the likelihood that these Distance Numbers were either intentionally calculated to incorporate these astronomical measurements or merely coincidental. The evidence suggests that historical dates were directly linked to parallel mythological events in deep time through the use of whole multiples of the sidereal year. Mythological reconstructions of remote astronomical events were conceivably used in a variety of ways that served to link specific Maya rulers and their lineages to the divine actions of the gods and the cycles of time

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Authors & Contributors
Aveni, Anthony F.
Aldana, Gerardo Villalobos
Stuart, David C.
Moyano, Ricardo
Ruggles, Clive L. N.
Urton, Gary
Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture
Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry
Journal of Skyscape Archaeology
Archeoastronomy (Supplement to Journal for the History of Astronomy)
Journal for the History of Astronomy
University Press of Colorado
University of Texas Press
Mayan civilization
Native American civilization and culture
Time Periods
Precolumbian period (America)
9th century
8th century
17th century
Central America
Machu Picchu

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