How It Works – the Mayan Long Count Calendar

Learn about the three types of calendars that the Mayans used

By on December 21st, 2012 14:03 GMT

Many people are dreading the Apocalypse, scheduled for today, the date allegedly foreseen by the Mayans. Rumor has it they ended their calendar on December 21.

The Mayans used three types of calendars, Live Science informs – a religious one, or Tzolk'in, a secular one or Haab', and the one that sparked all the doomsday panic, the Long Count Calendar.

They would use the Tzolk'in for setting religious and ceremonial dates. It would only register 260 days, and rewind once it reached the 260th day, as our modern calendar does.

Much like our current system, the Haab' included 365 days, but did not provide for the extra leap years, set due to the fact that it takes the Earth a quarter of a day more to rotate around the sun.

The Long Count Calendar operates with long periods of time, written with five numbers separated with periods. An example of such a number, which allegedly corresponds to today's date, is 13.0.0.0.0.

The Mayans believed the Gucumatz gods, also known as the Kukulkán, or Quetzalcoatl, created all living things. In the beginning, they created animals, helped by the storm god Huracán.

They wanted the people of Earth to resemble them, yet chose to make humans out of mud, and they didn't have the ability to move or speak. They tried to make humans out of wood next, but, although they got them to perform those tasks, they couldn't give them souls.

They succeeded in the end, by fashioning men out of maize or corn, which was their main source of sustenance.

According to Ancient Mythology, each time the count reaches 13.0.0.0.0., a new cycle of creation starts. The first one is estimated to have begun on August 11, 3114 BCE.

The units of time used in the long count calendar are the k'in (1 day), the winal (20 days), the tun (360 days), the k'atun (7,200 days) and the largest, the b'ak'tun (144,000 days).

As the 12th b'ak'tun is completed, today, the calendar reaches 13.0.0.0.0, hence the end of one stage and the beginning of another.

However, many of the Mayan's previsions are dated after the year 2012, a sign that they didn't believe ending a cycle would equate to the end of the world.
The Mayan Long Count Calendar chronicles the end of a cycle of creation
   The Mayan Long Count Calendar chronicles the end of a cycle of creation
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