Mayan Astronomy Essay

Published: 2020-02-17 15:00:41
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Category: Maya civilization

Type of paper: Essay

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Who were the Mayans? The Mayans were part of the Mesoamerican civilization and they lived around 2,000 BCE and lasted through to the time when the Spanish explorers arrived. From 250 CE 900 CE was when they reached the peak of their development. They are well known for a fully developed written language, numerical system, mathematics, art, architecture and astronomy. Where did the Maya civilization thrive? They inhabited parts of Central America such as Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and also in areas of Mexico.

What were the Mayans views on astronomy? When they viewed and studied the heavens the Mayans mainly focused on Venus and the Sun. They had a calendar, which predicted both solstices and equinoxes and is infamous for ending at December 21st, 2012. The calendar was also very precise and could anticipate eclipses and the revolution of Venus give or take a day for every 6,000 years. The reason for this accuracy was that astronomical observations made by priests were passed down by generations.

Venus: No civilization knew more about Venus than the Mayans. Venus was thought to be the companion of the Sun because it is one of the brightest objects on the night sky and because it is always near the Sun before sunrise and after sunset. The time it took for Venus and Earth to line up in their position correlated to the Sun was 584 days. The Mayans also timed their wars based on where Venus and Jupiter were at the time. Sun: But they obviously gave some considerance to the Sun.

They not only noted down equinoxes and solstices but Zenial passages as well. They also had a god who symbolized the Sun during a Zenial passage called the Diving God. And the Ecliptic, the path the Sun follows in the sky, was depicted by a double-headed serpent. Also, to signal the changing of season, a ball game was played that re-enacted the Suns orbit around the Earth. Earth: The Earth was believed to be flat with four corners. At each corner was a jaguar called a bacab. They were all different colors.

The Northern jaguar was White, East-Red, West-Black, and South-Yellow. At the center was green that stood for Earth. Each bacab held up the sky. The Mayans furthermore divided the universe into thirteen layers with a god for each one. Milky Way: It was called World Tree by the Mayans. The star clouds in the Milky Way were believed to be the tree of life from where all life originated. And in the World Tree was a monster called the Kawak Monster which took form of a giant head.

On the monsters head was a sacrificial bowl that had a flint blade to exemplify sacrifice and a Kimi glyph symbolizing death. At the top of the World Tree is a bird named Itzam Ye, or the Principal Bird deity. During winter the part of the Milky Way that dominated the sky was the White Boned Serpent. The Mayans spiritually thought of the Milky Way as a road on which souls travelled to reach the Underworld. So, ultimately, the Mayans were a very advanced and intelligent civilization and were super precise in their calendar and predictions.

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