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Astronomy

Of all the world"s ancient calendar systems, the Maya and other Mesoamerican systems are the most complex, intricate and also accurate. Calculations the the congruence of the 260-day and also the 365-day Maya cycles is almost exactly same to the actual solar year in the tropics, with just a 19-minute margin that error. Maya astronomer-priests looked come the heavens for guidance. They offered observatories, shadow-casting devices, and also observations of the horizon to map the facility motions the the sun, the stars and planets in order come observe, calculate and record this information in your chronicles, or "codices". From these observations, the Maya occurred calendars to store track the celestial movements and also the i of time. The Maya likewise kept in-depth records the the moon, although these do not seem to constitute a formal lunar calendar.

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With the aid of a forked stick, astronomer-priests offered only the naked eye to take observations that allowed them to calculate the path of Venus and other celestial bodies. From the records of their monitorings they might calculate with precision occasions such together solar eclipses.In Maya cities, ceremonial structures were precisely aligned with compass directions. At the spring and also fall equinoxes, for example, the Sun might be made to cast its light ray through tiny openings in a Maya observatory, lighting increase the observatory"s interior walls.
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Other alignments can relate to the exteriors of temples and also palaces. The most famous instance of this type of alignment deserve to be it was observed at Chichén Itzá, the primary Maya city that the Yucatán Peninsula. Civilization still gather there every year, as they have for centuries, to watch the sun illuminate the stairs of a pyramid specialized to Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent god. At the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the Sun gradually illuminates the pyramid stairs and also the serpent head at its base, developing the image of a snake slithering down the sacred hill to Earth.Why go the Maya go to such lengths to align their ceremonial plazas and temples v the Sun and stars? In part, it was to venerate the gods. Pacal"s dig in the temple of the engravings at Palenque, because that example, is aligned with the Sun. In ~ winter solstice, the sun sets behind the high ridge past the temple, in line v the center of the temple roof. Together the sun crosses the sky, it enters a doorway in the temple, hits the back wall and, together it heads for the horizon past the temple, shows up to descend the temple stairway into Pacal"s tomb. Pacal"s death and entry into the Underworld space thus corresponded with the Sun"s death and also entry into the Underworld.
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(left) Built on the lower foothills that the Sierra Madre, the holy place of the engravings was called for the series of hieroglyphics found on the interior walls the the temple topping the pyramid. The dig chamber, which lies at ground level, is obtainable only indigenous a stairway beginning in the floor of the temple.(centre) Close by, the "Palace" constrain the central area the Palenque. One unusual attribute is the four-storey square tower, added around A.D. 721 by a son of mr Pacal. That is tempting to think the tower was provided forastronomical observations; certainly it would have afforded a spectacular watch of the setting sun descending right into Pacal"s tomb.(right) The "Caracol" at Chichén Itzá is also believed to have actually served together an observatory. Certain of that is doors and also windows heat up with assorted planetary orbits.

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The Maya built observatories at countless of their cities, and aligned essential structures through the motions of celestial bodies. Few of these space temple groupings, such together a team of 3 at Uaxactún, which marks the Sun"s rising position at summer solstice, the two equinoxes and also winter solstice. Design such as the Caracol at Chichén Itzá was additionally aligned through the illustration ofcelestial body such as the Pleiades and also Venus. An additional temple in ~ Uxmalcontains thousands of Venus symbols. Huge metaphors and celestial events defined the ritual landscape because that Maya rulers. Transfers of royal power, because that example, seem to have been time by the summer solstice at specific centres. At Palenque, an engraving notes that Pacal"s kid Chan-Bahlum specialized the Cross temple grouping top top July 23, 690 - timed to coincide with the associate of Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the Moon. To the Maya, this event may have represented the primordial bear of the 3 ancestor god of the Palenque dynasty with the an initial Mother (the Moon), and would have actually been an suitable moment to consecrate an ascede monument.Maya murals and carvings present rulers wearing signs of the heavens, consisting of a belt or sky-band make of a chain of icons relating to the Moon, the Sun, Venus, day, night and also the sky. Rulers are likewise depicted delivering bars decorated together sky-bands to show that they had actually the mandate that heaven. Sometimes they are seated, surrounding by a sky-band which offers the leader a aur of celestial authority. Rulers also liked to combine themselves v auspicious god of the sky such as the sun God, and also Maya rulers and priests in genuine life frequently "clothed themselves v the heavens" by dressing in the pelt of the jaguar, who spots to be taken to stand for the stars.The Maya thought that the god guided the Sun and Moon across the sky. Also in the darkness of night, the Maya thought that the Sun and also Moon continued to journey with the Underworld, intimidated all the way by evil gods that wanted to prevent their progress. For this reason, the Maya believed that the heavenly bodies needed human help, i m sorry was detailed through spiritual rituals such as self-mutilation, torture, and also human sacrifice. To the Maya, supplying this help was just the price to be paid for the ongoing survival the the universe. Fatality from such rituals was a privilege, and conferred immortality top top those who died, or who readily available themselves as victims.The repeating cycles of creation and also destruction as defined in Maya mythology to be a reminder the the consequences if human beings neglected their duties to the gods. Humans had actually an innate responsibility to the gods that made humanity"s ongoing existence possible. According to the Maya spiritual calendar, every 52-year period signalled the renewed possibility of the devastation of the world. This was viewed as a frightening time as soon as the gods and other pressures of creation and chaos would do battle in the human being of mortals, determining the fate of every earthly creatures. The planet Venus to be particularly far-ranging to the Maya; the important god Quetzalcoatl, because that example, is determined with Venus. The Dresden Codex, one of four surviving Maya chronicles, contains comprehensive tabulation the the appearances that Venus, and was supplied to guess the future. The Maya additionally went to war by the sky, again prompted by the world Venus. Venus battle regalia is viewed on stelae and other carvings, and also raids and captures to be timed through appearances the Venus, an especially as an evening "star". Warfare regarded the motions of Venus was, in fact, well established throughout Mesoamerica.Maya calendars, mythology and also astrology were integrated into a single system of belief. The Maya it was observed the sky and also calendars to predict solar and also lunar eclipses, the cycles the the planet Venus, and the motions of the constellations. These incidents were far much more than only mechanical movements of the heavens, and were thought to it is in the tasks of god replaying mythical events from the time of Creation. Calendar priests still exist in Maya regions today, and also keep the 260-day sacred Round count for divination and other shamanistic activity. Plenty of of the contents of this belief system originated in the sky, yet were manipulated on planet by astronomer-priests who used the sacred structure that the cosmos toaffairs ~ above Earth.
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