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Mayan Science . Brittny Grandon Betty Morfin Vincent Trang Jackilynn Sterba. MS1. Mayan Existence. Time Period of Civilization Originated around 2600 BC Rose to quality state around 250 AD Decline around 900 AD Location Central America; north of the equator

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Mayan Science

Brittny Grandon Betty Morfin Vincent Trang Jackilynn Sterba


mayan existence
Mayan Existence

Time Period of Civilization

  • Originated around 2600 BC
  • Rose to quality state around 250 AD
  • Decline around 900 AD


  • Central America; north of the equator
  • Modern day MexicoThe area seen in green



mayan existence3
Mayan Existence


  • Astronomy
  • Calendar System
  • Mathematics
  • Hieroglyphic Writing
  • Ceremonial Architecture




mayan astronomy
Mayan Astronomy

The Caracol

  • Observatory used by the Mayans
  • Was called “snail” because of the winding staircase inside
  • Tracked the movement of Venus and the Sun, also accounted eclipses
  • Kukulkan
  • A tall pyramid with a Kukulkan (serpent) lining from the bottom to the top of the pyramid
  • When the equinox happens (twice a year) the sun passes over the Earth’s equator
  • Relates to the calendar and astronomy with 91 steps on each side and 365 steps altogether with the top platform included



mayan astronomy5
Mayan Astronomy

Dresden Codex

  • Codices that holds information regarding many unknown Mayan astronomy secrets
  • Relates to the observatory, basically written documents of what they found
  • The Mayans mapped out eclipses, the movement of Venus and the Sun, and were able to track star movements to create their calendar




mayan astronomy6
Mayan Astronomy



  • Ancient city said to have possibly been built based on the rising of Sirius or the Pleiades star cluster


The Starry Sky

  • The Mayans may have been interested in some of the planets and the Sun but they were wildly interested in stars and star clusters
  • The Pleiades star cluster would appear in late April during the morning around planting time
  • To the Mayans, this meant for them to continue planting


mayan calendars
Mayan Calendars

Calendar Significance

  • Cycles of movements of the sky deities – sun, moon, and planets – were accurately recoded using sophisticated arithmetical and writing systems.
  • The calendar was thought of as a great source of power if you understood it (close to the supernatural forces that governed the Cosmos).
  • Complex & Practical – understand events, and to predict the future.


mayan calendars8
Mayan Calendars

Tzolkin Calendar

  • Endless succession of 260 days
  • Each day has a number 1-13 before a sequence of twenty day names. Eg. 1 Ak’bal, 2 k’an….
  • Cycle completed when every one of the numbers has been paired with every one of the day names.

Fun Fact

  • Some people named their children depending on the day that they were born, that day would be closely associated with the person’s destiny.



mayan calendars9
Mayan Calendars

Haab Calendar

  • Solar year was divided into nineteen months
    • eighteen months of twenty days each called winals
    • And an additional one of five days
    • Totaling 365 days

Yukatek months



mayan calendars10
Mayan Calendars

Calendar Round

  • Combination of the Tzolkin and the Haab that creates another repeated cycle of 52 years.
  • 52 years passed before a given day would reoccur.
  • The picture to the right explains more about how it works


mayan mathematics
Mayan Mathematics
  • “Mayan astronomy went hand-in-hand with Mayan mathematics. In addition to recording their observations, the astronomers developed cyclical tables on the movements of planets and stars.”[Foster]
  • Using their mathematical skills, the ancient Mayans were able to make predictions about the future.
  • In relation, they also told of stories and events into their deep history.



mayan mathematics12
Mayan Mathematics

The Significance of Numbers

  • Mayans were amongst the first to come up with the concept of zero.
  • Their number system revolves around the number 20 – vigesimal.
  • The Mayan number system was a series of dots and bars.
  • All numbers had sacred meanings and were associated with different gods.

Fun Fact

  • The Mayan number system was more advanced than that of the ancient Romans.


mayan mathematics13
Mayan Mathematics

The Significance of Time

  • Mayans were fascinated by circles and cyclical movements (similar to the ancient Greeks).
  • The Mayan calendar is cyclical and rotates on a 1-13 digit basis.
  • The Mayans noted that eclipses were 46 rounds on the 260 day calendar.
  • They also noted the round which occurred every 52 years on the 260 day calendar ended on the same day as the 365 day solar calendar. This was equivalent to a century.


works cited internet books
Works Cited – Internet/Books
  • Mayan Exsistence pages:

Ayache, M. (n.d.). The Ancient maya. Retrieved from

  • Mayan Astronomy pages:

Böhm, V. & Böhm, B. The Dresden Codex: the Book of Mayan Astronomy. Available from

Brainard, J. (2008). The Kukulkán Pyramid.Retreived from

O’Connell, R.W. (2008) El Caracol: A Mayan Observatory. [Online Lecture]. Retrieved from

Welser-Sherrill, L. (2008). Astronomy of the Mayans. Retrieved from

  • Mayan Calendars pages:

Sharer J. Robert (2006, p.102-105). The Ancient Maya. California: Stanford university press.

Sharer J. Robert (2002, p. 187-190). Daily life in Maya civilization. Connecticut: green wood press.

Stuart, George E. (1977, p.115). The Mysterious Maya. Washington : National Geographic Society.

Thompson, John Eric Sidney. (1954, p. 149-51). The rise and fall of Maya civilization. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Webster, David L. (2002 p. 81-90).The fall of the ancientMaya : solving the mystery of the Maya collapse. London : Thames & Hudson.

  • Mayan Mathematics pages:

Foster, Lynn V., 2007, A Brief History of Central America. An imprint of Infobase Publishing, New York, NY, 338.

works cited pictures
Works Cited – Pictures
  • Mayan Calendars pages:

MC1: Johnson, R. (n.d.). How the Mayan calendar works. Retrieved from

MC2:Maya resurgence. (n.d.). Retrieved from

MC3:Cook, J. (n.d.). Recovering the lost world, part 15: the maya calendar.. Retrieved from


  • Mayan Mathematics





  • Mayan Science page:

MS1: Mayan maths. (2008, September 23). Retrieved from

  • Mayan Existence pages:

ME1: Mayan ruins, tulum, mexico pictures. (n.d.). Retrieved from,%20Tulum,%20Mexico%20pictures.html

ME2: Mayan civilization. (2008). Retrieved from

ME3: Mayan writings . (n.d.). Retrieved from

ME4: Mayan temples. (n.d.). Retrieved from

ME5: Profit, B. (2006, July 7). Travelblog. Retrieved from

  • Mayan Astronomy pages:

MA1: Mayan art. (n.d.). Retrieved from

MA2: ATSZ56. (2009). Chichen Itza equinox: The famous decent of the snake at the temple [Photo]. Yucatán. Retrieved from

MA3 – 5: De La Cova, Dr. A.R. (1997) Dresden Codex [Photo]. Retrieved from

MA6 – 7: Mystic Places: Teotihuacan [Photo]. (2009). Retrieved from

MA8: Hart, P. (2009). Pleiades Star Cluster [Photo]. Retrieved from