Solving The Mystery Of The Mayan Calendar’s 819-Count Cycle

El Caracol observatory at Chichen Itza.
Mayan Calendar Round. (Source: Chichen Itza)
Mayan Calendar Round. (Source: Chichen Itza)

Despite the mysticism that often clouds the Mayan calendar in popular culture, fact remains that the calendar system in use by the Mayans was based on a system used throughout the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies, dating back to at least the 5th century BCE. Characteristic of this system is the cyclical nature, with the Mayan calendar featuring three common cycles: the Long Count, Tzolk’in (260-day) and the 365-day, solar-based Haab’. Combined, these three cycles formed what is known as the Calendar Round and which lasts for 52 haab’ (years).

What was less obvious here was the somewhat obscure 819-day count that was found in certain locations in Mayan constructions. Now researchers John H. Linden and Victoria R. Bricker figure that they have discovered how this new cycle matches up with the previously known Calendar Round. In previous reports by e.g. Barbara McLeod and Hutch Kinsman in 2012, they noted the ongoing debate on this 819-day count and its potential purpose. The new insight by Linden and Bricker is that by increasing the calendar length to 20 periods of 819 days, it matches up with all synodic periods of the visible planets, explaining it as a planetary astronomical cycle.

What is interesting here is that the Mayan counting system is base-20 (vigesimal). Whether coincidence or not when it comes to this part of the Mayan calendar, it is good to see that more secrets of the Classical Mayan society are being recovered. With modern day Maya still living where their ancestors once did, these discoveries help them to recover and reconnect to the parts of their history that were so brutally destroyed by the invading Europeans.

(Heading image: El Caracol observatory at Chichen Itza, Mexico)

51 thoughts on “Solving The Mystery Of The Mayan Calendar’s 819-Count Cycle

  1. “With modern day Maya still living where their ancestors once did, these discoveries help them to recover and reconnect to the parts of their history that were so brutally destroyed by the invading Europeans.”

    Does that include recovering the horrible human sacrifices the invading Europeans put an end to?

      1. No, it was really ‘Brutal, meet different brutal.’ You should also read the L.A. Times article. But to have discovered how the 819 count cycle tied into the our solar systems periodicity and for us to rediscover its significance is amazing (give or take how long it took to settle down). Perhaps someone could comment on how much over what period of time that might drift to a different count. 818? 820? After all, entropy is relentless.

    1. yeah much like certain other european invaders practically depopulated a whole north continent because the former inhabitants were so savage and unchristian. (And a general nuisance to the poor settlers!)

      But sure, lets excuse genocide by: “Well, they deserved it!”

      1. Lets be rational about intent. In 1519 someone among the troops of Cortes brought smallpox to what is called Mexico City today. When he came back a year later the city was empty. The Spanish had expeditions with thousands of members, Spanish and native, that went as far as current day Kansas City. The diseases spread. The idea that the English colonists and later settlers brought smallpox and other diseases is 100+ years too late and in the arong place. The native population was already reduced to 1/10 to 1/3 of the formers numbers.

    2. Wow, way to sugar-coat the despicable “crusades.” Look up the piece of shit Diego de Landa, who made it his mission (literally) to destroy generations of Maya knowledge.

      1. So could we please differentiate between those spreading the word of God and those using it as an excuse to destroy everything? There may also be people in the middle between those extremes.

          1. It was a problem in times when the common people couldn’t read and the Bible was written in Latin which most didn’t understand anyhow, so the only understanding of religion came through the establishment and contradicting that would get you excommunicated or executed.

        1. It’s difficult to separate religion from geopolitics especially in the middle ages and early enlightenment, because of how the role of religion was defined and understood. See Augustine of Hippo and the argument of the “City of God”.

          “Augustine’s thesis depicts the history of the world as universal warfare between God and the Devil. This metaphysical war is not limited by time but only by geography on Earth. In this war, God moves (by divine intervention, Providence) those governments, political/ideological movements and military forces aligned (or aligned the most) with the Catholic Church (the City of God) in order to oppose by all means—including military—those governments, political/ideological movements and military forces aligned (or aligned the most) with the Devil (the City of the World). “

          1. This was basically official Catholic doctrine, and then later through Calvinism, a central feature in sects such as the Baptists and ideas like Manifest Destiny. The idea is that it is your divine right and responsibility as a believer to dominate all the pagans and heretics, and the reason why they die under your sword is because God is not on their side. If on the other hand you happen to suffer, it’s because you’re harboring sinners, or you’re a sinner yourself, which lead to witch hunts and all that stuff…

          2. You see, “doctrine”. Compare Luke 13,1-5, and for the domination John 13,13-18 or Luke 9,54f, and basically the whole New Testament.

            For the hacking part: God has given the freedom of will, and therefore has to work what the people are willing to do, otherwise the will would not be free. Making the best from what you’ve got is what hackers do (and forcing your will by almightyness is not hacking, in which case this comment would be off topic).

    3. Inform yourself.
      By the time the Europeans arrived, the Mayans that created the calendar the article refers to (funny enough, with a picture of the Aztec calendar, but hey, they are the experts, right!) had already dissolved into many other tribes, the biggest of them being the Cakchiquels.
      The European INVADERS pillaged and murdered entire civilizations all over America, under the excuse of Christianity hiding their lust for gold, and their impact is still palpable today, so, please, spare me the history lesson.
      I am one of those surviving brutal Mayans, by the way

    4. Mayans had already entered the reign of quantity by 900AD and were barely a culture by the time Europeans came to central America. But you can’t get enough “fuck whitey” out of that so it has been stretched a bit.

      1. Very nice point to be made here. Also the majority of the Mayans being wiped out before the Europeons came were probably not disease as usually suspected but probably war within the Mayans and other indigenous tribes.

  2. Let’s keep an even hand here: Los Angeles Times, 01/23/2005 – “Brutality of Aztecs, Mayas Corroborated” (you should give it a read) and not forget the “invading Europeans” were frequently aided by local tribes looking for payback (although promises for their cooperation were reneged on no better than what the Mayans dished out). Much the same way we can acknowledge the technological breakthroughs of that infamous German regime of the 30’s and early 40’s without losing track of how evil they were.

    1. Stone-age versus steel and machine-age. Outcome inevitable. In the case of Spanish “explorers” looking for riches versus Aztecs and Mayans, both sides were cultures based on male status and killing anyone who offends you – if they don’t kill you first. Conflict unavoidable.

    2. What was so bad about Mustached Man? If WWII was so great, why did the commies half of Eastern Europe? And Stalin starved millions of White Christians in the Ukraine, but yeah, those evil other guys.

      1. I can’t make sense of “If WWII was so great, why did the commies half of Eastern Europe?”.
        I don’t know anyone who says “WWII was great”, it was mostly an effort to defeat a country that was actively invading other countries. That they were authoritarian and committing genocide as well was extra encouragement to defeat them.
        Historically countries have not intervened in genocides that have been internal to other countries.
        Certainly the German invasion of Russia wasn’t intended to save the “White Christian” (whatever that has to do with it) Ukrainian people.

      1. The article quotes those who are experts in both cultures. I’d ask you to question them and not the source (I prefer the WSJ) but it appears you’re already committed for number three.

    1. There are a lot of different ways of counting on fingers. For base 20 you can count with your thumb on each other finger: the base, the fingertip, and the creases of each knuckle. With two hands you can effectively count to 400.

  3. Does this discuss that fact that the “mystery” of the 260-day calendar was solved when someone noticed that this was the human gestational period? And the Mayans invented a converter to go from that calendar to the 365-day solar calendar.

    1. That is pretty hilarious. I mean, very frustrating, but also pretty funny. Especially when half of the comments are related to cultural sensitivity.

      I can’t seem to find a picture of the Mayan Calendar. All search results lead to some version of the picture used in this article…

      1. They’ve literally linked to that image from the Mayan calendar page of the website of one of the most well known Mayan archaeological sites. This isn’t a lack of journalistic ethics or credibility on the part of the HaD team.

  4. How does this “new discovery” differ from the 16,380-day cycles on pages 140-143 of the Abstract Book of the 26th SEAC Conference at Graz (Austria), published in 2018, and from the 32,760-day cycles illustrated in figure 9 on page 230 of the mainstream journal Estudios de Cultura Maya, volume 53, edited in 2019 by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)?

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