The History of the Mayans

The Great Mayans

The area in which the Maya civilization developed includes three different regions: (1) the southern region, a mountainous highlands region which includes eastern Chiapas in Mexico, parts of Guatemala and western El Salvador in Central America; (2) the northern region of low-lying Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo; (3) the densely forested central region that reaches from the states of Tabasco and southern Campeche in Mexico, across the Petén region in northern Guatemala to include Belize and the western area of Honduras.

The Maya were the most advanced civilization in pre-Spanish Mexico. The Mayans built hundreds of ceremonial centers and cities, complete with great plazas, palaces, and pyramids, all without the use of metal tools. The Mayans also created masterpieces of sculpture. As impressive as these accomplishments were, the most remarkable achievements of the Mayans were in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, hieroglyphics writing, and calendrics. Using only fixed lines of sight to study the movements of the moon, planets, and the sun, the Mayans were able to make accurate astronomical observations. As a result, they were able to devise several calendars, one which is more accurate than the 365 day calendar we use today!

The basis of the Solar/Civil Calander was the 360 period called Tun. The 360 days were divided into 18 months called Uinal, each had 20 days each, 5 days called Uayayeb (meaning the nameless month) were added. The 5 day Uayayeb was considered very unluckly by the Mayans who avoided all possible activity, except for offering to theirs gods, during this time. The calendar was based upon their computation of the length of a year at 365.242 days which is remarkably close to our present calculations of 365.2422 days. They also calculated the average synodical revolution of Venus at 584 days as compared with our current calculations of 583.92 days.

None of these calculations could of been possibly without a knowledge of mathematics, and the Mayans were brillant mathematicians. They had knowledge of the zero, only two other civilizations in history understood the use of the zero, the Babylonians and the Hindus.

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