How did the Maya tell the Time?

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How did the Maya tell the time?



Time was extremely important to the Maya, every inscription began with the date and their precise calendars greatly aided their astronomical record keeping.

The Maya calendar round of 52 years, consisted of two calendars. The first is of 260 days (Tzolk’in – the sacred year), which has 1 to 13 numbers and 20 named days, e.g. 1 Imix, 2 Ik, to 13 Ben.


The second calendar was the 365-day solar year (Haab), which had 18 months of 20 days each, with 5 days added to the end. For example, 0 Kimi would be followed by 1 Kimi, then 2 Kimi, up to 19, then it would be 0 Manik, 1 Manik and so on.




To make things even more complicated (yes, the Maya didn’t like things simple!), they also had another calendar, called the Long Count. This calendar started on 13th August 3114 BC and ended never! Each cycle of the calendar lasted 5125 years and when one cycle ended a new one began.




The Maya Calendar made by Maya children from Melody School, Guatelemala


Activity: FAMSI
Would you like to see what today looks like in the Maya calendar or how the Maya would have written your birthdate? Then check out the FAMSI calendar calculator.



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