Ancien temple maya

The oldest known trace of the Mayan calendar has been discovered in Guatemala

The pyramid of Las Pinturas is located in the middle of the Petén forest, in the district of San Bartolo in Guatemala. This archaeological site discovered by chance by archaeologist William Saturno contains thousands of fragments of wall frescoes plaster buried under the ground. These ancient remains offer archaeologists a window on the customs of the Mayan civilization. As part of the san bartolo-xultun regional archaeological projectarchaeologist David Stuart and his colleagues decided to take a closer look at two fragments of a ancient mayan calendar.

These pieces of plaster seem to be the oldest known traces of the Mayan calendar. According to them, these parts were made between 300 and 200 BC. On these fragments is represented the date of the “7 stags” of the sacred calendar of 260 days, common to all the civilizations of ancient Mesoamerica.

This calendar is still used today by indigenous communities in Guatemala and southern Mexico, researchers report in the scientific journal, Science Advances April 13, 2022.

A still lingering Mayan cultural influence

The use of Maya calendar system testifies to the persistence of cultural and intellectual influence of this long-vanished civilization on present-day South American societies. This calendar system has not only survived nearly 1,800 years of Mayan civilization, but too from the Spanish conquests to the present day.

ancient mayan temple

According to scientists, the pyramid of Las Pinturas appears to have been razed and then rebuilt at least seven times by the Maya between 400 B.C. and 100 A.D. Heather Hurst, co-author of the study and director of the San Bartolo-Xultun Regional Archaeological Project explained that these successive demolitions created a series of time capsules discreetly stacked on top of each other. These ancient artefacts allowed them to know a little more about this people who extend their influence since this distant time.

A 260-day Mayan sacred calendar

The archaeologists then decided to date two calendar fragments as well as the material under which they were buried. This carbon-14 dating has made it possible to determine a narrow time window between 300 and 200 BCduring which this 260-day calendar was made.

This type of calendar used to be widespread throughout Mesoamerica was very popular. It uses 13 numbers and 20 signs to indicate specific dates such as the day of “7 Cerf”. Thus, the numbers 13 and 20 were considered as Holy in this region. Even more amazing, the Mayan calendar year corresponds to the human gestation period which is 260 days.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.