Blinking snake

Mayan Calendar References

Constellation band

Vision Serpent

Primary references

  1. The Maya, Michael D. Coe latest Edition, (1st Edition published in 1966) Thames & Hudson, New York (Trade paperback). A general introduction.
  2. The article on calendrical systems in Britannica III (15th Edition, 1980): Volume 3, pp 595-612.
  3. From One To Zero, George Ifrah, 1978(?) pp 397-427. Only so-so.
  4. “Maya Numeration, Computation, and Calendrical Astronomy” by Floyd G. Lounsbury, in Dictionary of Scientific Biography Vol. 15, Supplement I (1978) edited by Charles Coulston Gillespie. (New York: Scribner’s, 1978) pp. 759-818. Tough going, but probably the most accurate available information, except that the correlation constant does not appear because he hadn’t found it yet.
  5. “Calendrics of the Maya Lowlands” by Linton Satterthwaite, in Handbook of Middle American Indians: Archaeology of Southern MesoAmerica part two. General editor Robert Wauchope; volume editor, Gordon R. Willey. (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1965) pp. 603-631.
  6. An Introduction to the Study of the Mayan Hieroglyphics by Sylvanus Griswold Morley; Bulletin 57 of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution. (Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1915). Detailed (excruciatingly detailed) reference on working out Maya dates and distance numbers by hand.
  7. Practical Astronomy With Your Calculator by Peter Duffett-Smith, second edition (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1981). (First edition 1979.) You want this one, not Astronomy With Your Personal Computer, because the programs in that are in BASIC.
  8. Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac ed. P. Kenneth Seidelman; Completely Revised and Rewritten (University Science Books: Mill Valley, CA 1992). See especially Chapters 2, 11, 12 and 13.
  9. The Book of the Year: Middle American Calendrical Systems by Munro S. Edmonson. (Salt Lake City, UT: University of Utah Press, 1988)
    Excellent, exhaustive and enthusiastic coverage of the tzolkin as used in virtually all Pre-Columbian Middle American cultures, plus those cultures still using the calendar.

Mayan motif

The most important information required to use the Maya calendar is the “correlation constant;” this is the Julian Period Date that equates to day 0, 4 ’Ahaw 8 K’umk’u. Floyd Lounsbury proved to many people’s satisfaction that it is 584285. This works out to Wednesday, 13 August, -3113, Gregorian style, or Wednesday, 8 September, 3114BC, Julian style.

Another popular correlation is 584283.  It has the advantage of correlating with the day-count as kept now in the Guatemalan Highlands.  Dates with this correlation are Monday, 11 August, -3113, Gregorian, or Monday, 6 September, 3114BC, Julian.

To find out what the Julian Period is, see reference 8 and The Julian Period.

For information on other calendars, see Claus Tondering’s Calendar FAQ.

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