Mayan Calendar

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The Mayan Calendar 


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Actual Calendar Date Calculators

     At this point you are being given an online Web-site address where you can plug in a Christian date.  The site will automatically convert your date to the Mayan date for you. The URLS are:


     Of the various calendars, the Mayan calendar is the closest to the present day computer calculated astronomical value of a true solar year.  Here is a comparison between a few well known calendars and their comparative values for a solar year.

                     Modern Astronomical Calculation  365.242198 days


                                     Mayan Calendar………..   365.242129 days

                                     Hebrew Calendar………   365.246827 days

                                     Gregorian Calendar…….   365.242500 days

                                                (our calendar)

                                     Julian Calendar…………   365.250000 days


     It is said that the Mayan calendar was devised in Copán, Honduras.  The Mayans used two inter-lineal calendars.  One was a civil calendar.  The other was a religious ritual calendar.  A large replica of these calendars can be seen today, in the museum at the Copán Ruins.  It are in the form of a wheel within a wheel.  The outer wheel is adjacent to a much larger wheel.  As one turns, the others turn like meshing cogs on gears.

Because of the difference in the sizes of the two larger wheels, a given point (date) on one calendar will align itself with a given date of the opposing calendar only once every fifty-two years.  This fifty-second year was a very special and revered year by the Mayans.

        They called each fifty-two year period a bundle.   It has similarities to the Hebrew’s year of Jubilees, which occurs every fifty years.  In the year of Jubilees all debts are forgiven, the land is not cultivated, but lays fallow, giving the nutrients a chance to replenish themselves, and lands revert back to their original owners.

     It was during one of these 52 year sacred celebration times that the Spaniard, Hernán Cortés landed in present day Mexico (March 4,1519 A.D.).  Since Quetzalcoatl (a historical self proclaimed god had promised to return one day and save his people, the Mayans believed that Cortés might possible be their returning savior.  He was therefore received in peace and no attempt was made on his life. He landed near what is present day Vera Cruz, with 600 soldiers, a little artillery, 11 ships, and 16 horses.

     The Mayan civil calendar called the Haab, also called the solar calendar, is made up of 18 months of 20 days each, plus one month of 5 days, totaling 365 days.  The five days of the nineteenth month are days of rest, and generally considered unlucky or evil days.

The numbers 13 and 7 are both divine numbers.  So, 13 plus 7 equals the number of man.   The number 9 represents woman.  20 times 9 equals 180.  This number doubled is 360.

        The sacred round calendar called the Tzolkin consists of 13 months of 20 days each, or a total of 260 days.  This calendar is composed of the two smaller wheels, one inside the other and against one side, both turning simultaneously.  One wheel contains numbers

1 through 13, and the other 20 sign names, thus this date being expressed in a double manner such as 4th of July.   It is believed that the number 260 was taken from the fact that the lunar month is slightly less than 29 days, and the human pregnancy lasted for 9

months.  28.8888 days times 9 lunar months equals 260.

     Another theory is that the Ahau-can Crotalus Durissus rattlesnake that lives in the Yucatán peninsula has patterns on its skin in the form of small squares.  Each side of the square has 13 scales; and that the snake grows new fangs every 20 days.  Thirteen times 20 equals 260.

       A third theory is that at 15 degrees latitude such as Copán, the suns spends 260 days south of the zenith before passing over to the north of the zenith.

     When the dual-calendar system is run backwards through the “long count”, we see that the Mayan year zero (0), or it may be called the current creation cycle began on August 13, 3113 B.C..  Some scholars argue that the year should read B.C. 3114.

Linda Schele (1990), a renowned  professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and a leading scholar in her field suggests the date of August 12, 3114 B.C.  The difference between calculating the years stems from the problem that our Gregorian calendar goes from the year 1 B.C. immediately to the year 1 A.D.  Our calendar has no year “0”.   The Mayans recognized the existence and importance of the number zero (0).  Apparently Mr. Gregory didn’t!

       On July 29, 615 A.D., in Palenque, King Pacal assumed the throne of the local Mayan Empire.  This date is recorded in hieroglyphics and would be written in numbers as  9-9-2-4-8.  In glyphs it is 9 baktuns, 9 katuns, 2 tuns, 4 uinals and 8 kin.  Counting back from July 29, 615 AD one arrives at August 13, 3114 B.C. Again remember the disagreement in calendars because our calendar has no year “zero”.  This brings it back to B.C. 3113. August 13, 3113 B.C. is the Maya date that represents the time of the creation.   It is for this same reason that many people today say that the real Y2K is at the END of the year 2000, and not at the beginning.  This is only a problem for computers.

     The Mayan calendar cycle extends for a period of four hundred years.  The entire Mayan “time frame” will last for thirteen of these cycles (5,200 years).  According to Quiché Mayan prophecy the present calendar will end at the winter solstace December 21, 2012 A.D.. There is some variable in the day.  Some interpret it as December 27th.  On this prophetic date the Mayas say “The final sun will set.”  You might say this is the Mayan Y2K!  If nothing cataclysmic happens on that date such as the end of the world,

the following day will carry the Mayan date of :  1-0-0-0-0.  A new calendar will go into effect. All dates are expressed by five numbers.

The counting system of the Mayans is based on the number 20 (vigesimal) , not on 10 (decimal) as is ours .  The calendar operates accordingly.  One day is called a “kin”.  Twenty days (a Mayan month) is called a “uinal”.  Eighteen uinals is called a “tun”, a solar year (360 days). Remember they added a 19th month of five unlucky days.  Twenty tuns is a “katun”.

Twenty katuns is known as a “baktun” (400 years).  Thirteen baktuns is 5,200 years.  Even longer periods of time were calculated by the Mayans for whatever reason they might have had.  These are the “pictun”, the “calabtun”, the “kinchiltun”, and the “analtun”.   One analtun is sixty-four million years.  The time when dinosaurs roamed many parts of the earth was just over one analtun ago (65 million years).

         The Mayans, using this system could project time millions of years into the past or into the future for predictions.  Using their calendar, time really had no beginning or end.  The  date of  August 13, 3113 ( or 3114) B.C. for the Mayans was the date of the present  creation.  They also had a belief in a world before this current creation.  This is treated in the Popol Vuh,  their cosmogony.  There, one finds vivid descriptions of the other creations, peoples and events “before our first mother and our first father”.

     Another calendric study may be found at:

The numbering system uses dots and bars.  Each dot represents 1.  Five dots equals 1 bar.

Two bars with two dots then would represent the number twelve.  A glyph of a shell represents zero; but a shell with one dot represents the number twenty.


     One of the most ancient Mayan artifacts ever found was found on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, near the town of Puerto Barrios.  A crew digging a canal found a small hatchet shaped object made of jade, with ornate carvings.  It bears the Mayan date of which corresponds to the year A.D. 320.  

 For a pictorial of how the Mayan calendars physically interacted one with the other, see page 9 of the site


The Mayan Haab calendar had 18 months of 20 days plus one month of 5 days.  Each month had a name which had a meaning to the Mayans.  These months are listed here for your convenience.:

Months of 20 days






















Tender sun



















Months of 20 days




Mature sun












Dark God


Uayeb (only 5 days)