Taking a Look at Mayan Astronomy Essay

Taking a Look at Mayan Astronomy Essay

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The Mayans were famous for their astronomical beliefs and heavy dependence on the sky. The Mayans originated from Mesoamerica, located on the southern side of Mexico spreading further downwards to Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and many South American countries. They were great astronomers, as they made heavy use of the motion of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars. With this, it is easy to assume that the Mayans were very intelligent since they were able to interpret these ideas without the use of telescopes and compasses. Instead, they used a fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as architectures, mathematics and naked eyesight. It is interesting that today we use their interpretations to calculate time and days of the year.
The Mayans developed calendars, based on the timing of constellations and careful observations of the sun, moon and planets. The most popular calendar known as the Tzolkin had a 260-day count. This calendar was combined with a 365-day year known as the Haab'. These two calendars came together every 52 years, allowing them to foresee rainy, drought and disease outbreaks. Planet Venus was also a very important part of Mayan cosmology. The Mayans kept detailed recordings of the position of Venus throughout the year as it was associated with war. Wars were organized according to the Moons position, and warriors and leaders would be sacrificed during the dark of the night. With recording these details, they believed that one year had approximately 584 days, comparative to the sun.
The Mayans honored many Gods, as many elements of the sky were significant to Mayan astronomy and ultimately their lives. First, the Sun God was Kinich Ahau, one of the most powerful Gods. They followed ...

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...unctions of the universe, strict structure of life and architecture along with religious beliefs is remarkable. The Mayans are undoubtedly a marvelous group of people. The fact that we follow their findings today shows how intelligent they were. It is difficult to pull details from illustration with the naked eye, but somehow their ability to make accurate projections of celestial events without modern technology is astonishing. I am not sure that without the findings of the Mayans, scientists would be able to discover and investigate as much information today.

Works Cited

Aveni, Anthony. "Power from the Sky: Ancient Maya Astronomy and the Cult of Venus." Stairways to the Stars: Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997. 93-133.

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