days and the numbers were associated with deities, and the deities were given calendar names. Kelley (1980) has argued that the calendar names were conceptualized as the birth of the deities and were counted from a single base and mark the astronomical identities of the deities. Illustrations of the 20 day names and their ruling deities from the central Mexican Borgia Codex are to be found in Figure 12.3.

The 365-day year (hereafter called the Mesoamerican year or My1) was broken into 18 named periods of 20 days each, and a nameless 5-day period (usually referred to by modern scholars as uayeb, one of many euphemisms used by the Mayas). The 20-day periods were called "moons" in many of the local languages and are called "months" in the modern literature, a term reflecting their functional correspondence with our months and perhaps their historical origin (Stewart 1984). The 18 Maya months are listed in Table 12.3. Due to a curious misconception among scholars, first corrected by Thompson (1950), a particular glyphic symbol that actually marks the day (or possibly evening) immediately preceding the 1st day of the month was construed as the "zero" of that month. Thompson showed that the true meaning of the glyph was something like "eve of"2 and that the day written, for example, "eve of Uo" could also be written "end of Pop." We now know that the Mesoamerican year began with the 1st day of Pop and not with the incorrect "0 Pop" of earlier Mayanists. Unfortunately, this error is still common.

The relationship between the 260-day tzolkin and the months of the year is like our correlation of week-days and month-days, but more consistent. Because the intervals 20, 260, and 365 are all divisible by 5, only four of the 20 day names could begin the year. This was a source of

1 The abbreviation My in this section will refer exclusively to "Mesoamerican years" and never to "Millions of years," a common astronomical reference.

2 DHK: This is now known to mean "seating of."

endless confusion both for the Spaniards and for modern scholars because both the 260-day period and the 365-day period were each often referred to as "the calendar." The order of the day names and the way in which the day names were integrated with the positions in the months are indicated in Table 12.4, and an integrated list of Tzolkin and Haab cycles for a few years are given in Appendix D.

The beginning of the Maya 260-day "calendar" was Hun Imix ("One Crocodile" is a translation of the Aztec equivalent—see Table 12.2). Tedlock (1979) has shown that this beginning is no longer of any importance in calendar divination among the Quiche Maya time-keepers of Mom-ostenango, but there is abundant evidence for its previous importance. The beginning of the 365-day "calendar" was the first of Pop. Earlier scholars, therefore, tried to fit the day 1 Crocodile to the first of Pop, and we have found that students often try to do the same despite warnings. It is impossible because the structure of the calendar allows "Crocodile" to fall only on the 4th, 9th, 14th, and 19th days of the months. The only days that could begin the Mesoamerican year during the Classic Period of Mayan history were Akbal (equivalent to "House"), Lamat ("Rabbit"), Ben ("Reed"), and Etz'nab ("Flint"). Any difference from this pattern is due to some sort of calendar change or reform. Among the colonial Maya, the following four days, viz., Kan, Muluc, Ix, and Cauac, had become the 1st of Pop. It is, however, possible that the days of the 260-day calendar began at one time of day and the days of the month began at a different time of day. This would account for a very small number of anomalous dates in the Mayan inscriptions and perhaps for that confusing use of the glyph that Thompson identified as "eve of."

In combining the day names with their positions in the month, it can be seen that any one day name can occur on only 73 days in the year (i.e., in four positions in each of the 18 months and once in uayeb). For example, 1 Imix may fall on 4 Pop, 9 Pop, 14 Pop, 19 Pop, on 4 Uo, 9 Uo,..., on 4

Figure 12.3. Central Mexican glyphs of the day names and the ruling deities of the days, from the Borgia codex. Drawing by Sean Goldsmith, ff. Caso.

Figure 12.3. Central Mexican glyphs of the day names and the ruling deities of the days, from the Borgia codex. Drawing by Sean Goldsmith, ff. Caso.

1. Cipactli - Crocodile Swordfish

2. Ehecatl - Wind God

4. Cuetzpallin - Lizard

6. Miquiztli - Death

8. Tochtli- Rabbit

9. Atl-Water

10. Itzcuintli - Dog

11. Ozomatli - Monkey

12. Malinalli - 'Twisted' Broom Plant

14. Ocelotl - Jaguar

15. Quauhtli - Eagle

16. Cozcaquauhtli - Vulture

17. Ollin - Movement, Earthquake

18. Tecpatl - Flint Knife

19. Tlaloc -Rain God

20. Xochitl - Flower

Zip,..., and so on. It must occur in each of these positions before the combination of day name and month-position can recur, viz., after 73 x 260 = 18,980 days. The converse of the previous statement is that in any given month position, only four day names can appear and they must appear accompanied by each of the 13 numbers before the same day name can repeat with the same number in the same month position. This requires 4 x 13 x 365 = 18,980 days. This period is 52 Mesoamerican years (hereafter in this chapter, My) and is usually called the calendar round (abbreviated "CR") by modern scholars. Hence, any combination such as 7 Ix 2 Cumku can occur only once in 52 Mesoamerican years. This period was in use by most if not all of the groups in the area

when the Spaniards arrived. In Mesoamerica today, most groups preserve only the 260-day cycle or only the 365-day cycle.

The existence of the 52-year cycle (CR) made it possible to name the year by a day falling in a specified position of the year. To the great confusion of modern scholars and perhaps the occasional confusion of the ancient Mesoamer-icans, different groups named the year by different day names, even though they agreed (within ±1 day) on what day was current. Hence, the beginning and ending points of the Maya year are different from those of the Mixtecs or Aztecs and probably different from many other groups. We know that different tribes had different deities, and it seems

Table 12.3. The months of the Haab: The 365-day Mayan yeara.

Day running count

Table 12.3. The months of the Haab: The 365-day Mayan yeara.

Day running count





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