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Mayan 2012 Connections  This picture is The Temple of Kukulcan at the Chichen Itza Maya ruin site located in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula. Occupied during the Terminal and Late Classic periods of the Maya empire (roughly 600-1000 AD), Chichen Itza rose to prominence during a time when most Mayan cultures were in decline. The Temple of Kukulcan (also known as El Castillo) is said to be a physical embodiment of the Maya Calendar. For instance, there are 91 steps on each of the four sides of the pyramid (totaling 364) plus the top platform giving us 365 to match the days of a solar year. There are many other representations of time within the construction of the pyramid as will be pointed out later. One of the more interesting aspects of the Kukulcan pyramid is the famous decending serpent illusion which can be seen on the Spring and Fall equinoxes. An equinox occurs when the Sun is located in the middle of the transit between solstices. A solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth's axis is either closest to or farthest away from the Sun. It is on these days when the Sun's apparent movement north and south through the sky appears to halt and reverse direction, signaling the changing of seasons. An equinox is the midpoint between solstices (usually March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23). Equinox and Solstice dates can be found here. The serpent represented is one of the 13 symbols within the Mayan Zodiac. It is the descent of the Rattlesnake. Maya decendents today believe the Snake decends upon the temple every year (as evidenced by the illusion) however the rattles have yet to descend. These descendents believe according to the Mayan Calendar 2012 is the year when the rattles will descend. The Rattles are the Pleiades Star Cluster. You can verify this by looking further into the Mayan Zodiac.  In addition to the Kukulcan pyramid Chichen Itza is also home to The Great Ball Court. It is at the Great Ball Court where the Maya would re-enact the creation of the world and the subsequent destruction and rebirth that followed. The game involved 6-7 players on each side competing to get a ball through a round stone carving, intertwined by stone serpents, some 10-12 meters off the ground. The captain of the winning team was honored through sacrifice as depicted on carvings surrounding the court. Mayan Calendar 2012 cont The Maya civilisation inhabited a region encompassing southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize & western Honduras, and flourished between the third and tenth centuries AD, but by 1200 AD their society had collapsed for reasons we can only guess at. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived, descendants still occupied the area, and still spoke the Mayan language, but were unaware of the cities their forefathers had created. It wasn't until the late 18th century that explorers first investigated the dense Guatemalan rainforest and came across plazas, monoliths, temples and pyramids, each decorated with pictures and hieroglyphs. The ancient Maya had been keeping historical records - using a script which mixed ideographic and phonetic elements. Some of their writing still exists on stelae (stone monuments) that recount civil events and record their calendric and astronomical knowledge. Spanish Conquest Diego de Landa was a Spanish priest who visited Mexico on a charitable mission, became the Franciscan provincial of Yucatán in 1561 and is infamous for his destruction of priceless Maya documents and artefacts. Although Landa was very interested in the Mayan culture, he abhorred certain aspects of their practices, particularly human sacrifice. In July 1562, when evidence of human sacrifice was found in a cave containing sacred Maya statues, a bout of religious self-righteousness saw Landa order the destruction of five thousand idols. He decided that their books were also the devil's work and saw to it that they were burned, with only three books surviving. Consequently the majority of Mayan knowledge and history was lost. Yet despite his actions, we are also indebted to Landa for his acute and intelligent opus on Mayan life and religion, Relación de las cosas de Yucatán (1566), which remains the classical text on Mayan civilisation. This book, which was not printed until 1864, provided a phonetic alphabet that made it possible to decipher roughly one-third of the remaining Mayan hieroglyphs. The most important of the surviving books was what is now called the Dresden Codex, named after the city where it was lodged. It is a strange book, inscribed with hieroglyphs, which no one understood until 1880. At that time Ernst FØrstemann, a German scholar who worked at the same Dresden library, managed to crack the code of the Mayan calendar making it possible for other academics to translate the many dated inscriptions found on buildings, stelae and other ancient Mayan artefacts. He discovered that the Codex contained detailed astrological tables, which calculated the year to be 365.2420 days long, more accurate than the Julian calendar that we use today. The tables were used exclusively by the Mayan astronomers to predict the solstices and equinoxes, the path of the planets in our solar system, the cycles of Venus and Mars, and other celestial phenomena. Other information we have today has been gleaned from the Popol Vuh and Chilam Balam - books written just after the Spanish arrived. The knowledge found in these books and codices, combined with the uncovering of mysterious pyramids, demonstrate that the Maya had knowledge to rival the Greeks and Egyptians. Mayan Calendar The life of the Maya revolved around the concept of time. Priests were consulted on civil, agricultural and religious matters, and their advice would be derived from readings of the sacred calendars. Time was of such importance that children were even named after the date on which they were born. Maya math uses only three symbols - a shell-shaped glyph for zero, a dot for one and a bar for five to represent units from zero to 19. For instance, the number 13 was represented as three dots and two bars.  Zero was an advanced concept in those days, something that the Romans were not aware of. Yet the Maya were comfortable enough with it to use a shell as its symbol, a tangible object representing an abstract concept. The Maya also used metrical calculation and place numeration, which were very clever for a culture that didn't use the wheel! Although they had many calendars, they marked the passage of time with three cycles that ran in parallel. The first is the scared calendar known as the Tzolkin. It combines the numbers from 1 through 13 with a sequence of 20 day-names. It works in a similar manner to our named days of the week, and their date within each month. So you might have 5-Chikchan (like our Sunday the 5th) followed by 6-Kimi (as we would have Monday the 6th). After 260 days the same number/name combination will re-occur, and the calendar starts anew. Their use of the vigesimal (base 20) numbering system probably relates to fingers and toes, whereas the 13 nicely fits the growth phase of the moon which isn't visible when new and appears full for two days on end, thus appearing to have a 13 day growth cycle. Alternatively, the length of the Tzolkin may be related to the human gestation period of nine months (273 days). It has been suggested that 260 days is the time between a woman suspecting her pregnancy (she doesn't menstruate) and when she gives birth. The second is the agricultural calendar known as the Haab, or vague year. It consists of 18 months, each of 20 days. An addition of a five-day month (a period of apprehension and bad luck named Uayeb) gives us 365 days, an approximation of a year. This calendar's primary purpose was to keep track of the seasons, for seasonal and solar events would occur on roughly the same day of each year. The Maya were aware of the annual quarter day discrepancy, but it is not known if they ever did anything about it. These two independently running calendars each begin again every 260 and 360+5 days. However, every 52 years they coincide: "The Tzolkin and the Haab ran concurrently, like intermeshed cog-wheels, and to return to any given date, 52 years, or 18,980 days, would have to elapse (because both 365 x 52 and 260 x 73 = 18,980). In other words, the Tzolkin would make 73 revolutions and the Haab 52, so that every 52 calendar years of 365 days one would return to the same date. A complete date in this 52-year cycle might be, for example, 2 1k 0 Pop (2 1k being the position of the day in the Tzolkin, 0 Pop the position in the Haab). Fifty-two years would pass before another 2 1k 0 Pop date returned. It was expected that the world would end at the completion of a 52-year cycle. At this time, among the Mexica in the Valley of Mexico, all fires were extinguished, pregnant women were locked up lest they be turned into wild animals, children were pinched to keep them awake so that they would not turn into mice, and all pottery was broken in preparation for the end of the world. In the event the gods decided to grant man another 52 years of life on earth, however, a night time ceremony was held in which the populace followed the priests through the darkness over a causeway to the top of an old extinct volcano that rises abruptly from the floor of the basin of Mexico, known today as the Hill of the Star, the hill above Ixtapalapa. There, with all eyes on the stars, they awaited the passage of the Pleiades across the center of the heavens, which would announce the continuation of the world for another 52 years. When the precise moment came, a victim was quickly sacrificed by making a single gash in his chest and extracting the still palpitating heart. In the gory cavity the priests, with a fire drill, kindled a new flame that was quickly carried by torches across the lake to the temple in Tenochititlan, and from there to all temples and villages around the lake. This was known as the New Fire Ceremony among the Mexica, and in some way this same completion and renewal of each 52-year cycle was recognized by all Mesoamericans."[i] This is not unlike how the end of the last millennium may ha