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Scientists may have solved the mystery of the Mayan calendar

The Mayan calendar is a complex system composed of calendars of different cycles with different durations, developed centuries ago in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.

Of the calendars that make it up, the 819-day calendar is the one that fascinates most contemporary anthropologists.

This cycle is known simply as the 819-day count.

, Scientists may have solved the mystery of the Mayan calendar
The Mayan calendar is one of the most accurate in history (Photo internet reproduction)

The problem is that researchers have not been able to connect these 819 days to anything.

Anthropologists John Linden and Victoria Bricker of Tulane University in New Orleans, US, believe they have finally cracked the code.

All they had to do was expand the scope of their research by examining how the calendar worked over 45 years, not 819 days, and correlating that with the time it takes for a celestial object to return to roughly the same point, known as the synodic period.

Although previous research has attempted to show planetary correlations for the 819-day count, “increasing the length of the calendar to twenty 819-day periods yields a pattern in which the synodic periods of all visible planets correspond to position points in the 819-day calendar,” Linden and Bricker point out in an article published last week in the scientific journal Ancient Mesoamerica.


It is a calendar based on glyphs (symbolic characters that are usually imprinted) that repeats four times, with each block of 819 days corresponding to one of four colors and, the scientists originally assumed, a cardinal direction.

Red was associated with the East, white with the North, black with the West, and yellow with the South.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that researchers realized this assumption was wrong.

Instead, white and yellow were associated with the zenith and nadir, respectively, an interpretation consistent with astronomy.

The sun rises in the East, travels across the sky to its highest point (zenith), sets in the West, and then passes through its lowest point on the celestial sphere (nadir) before rising again in the East.

There was further evidence that the 819 days were related to the synodic periods of the visible planets in the solar system.

The Maya had extremely accurate measurements of the synodic periods of the visible planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

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