Corrections and Notes about Maya Papers

Previous Topic Previous Next Topic Next
Maya Info

Other Xoc managed sites:

These are notes and corrections for various books and papers about the Maya, as noted by Greg Reddick.

This is meant to be a place for me to note various things I've noted in other peoples' papers. Mainly corrections to the Maya date math.

Texas Note 47 Tonina Dates I: A Glyph for the Period of 260 Days? by Peter Mathews, page 1

The first distance number in the math should be 5.15, not 5.1.5. This is noted correctly in the text. The rest of the math appears correct.

I think 13 Zac (Sak') is more likely referring to one of these dates:

  • 3 Ajaw 13 Sak' 6 August 25, 0775 CE
  • 4 Chikchan 13 Sak' 2 August 24, 0776 CE

The first is 5 days before the first date listed in the article ( The second is 100 days after the last date listed ( I think it is more likely that there is a shift to another date without an intervening distance number or a full date given than it is for 13 Zac (Sak') to mean 260 days.

Texas Note 54 Naranjo Altar 1 and Rituals of Death and Burials by Nikolai Grube and Linda Schele

The chronology they list is

12 Ok 18 K'ank'in
+ (7723964)  13 Ix 12 Xul
+ (304623)  7 Kab'an 5 K'ayab
+19.10.7 (7047)  7 Ak'b'al 11 Sotz'

The distance number 19.10.7 does not connect the last two dates. 19.10.6 does. I believe that the drawing of the glyph is at G10, and if so, it clearly a 7. That means something is wrong elsewhere. I have yet to work out how it could be corrected to make it all work, but it can't stand as it is. I suspect that it is drawn incorrectly, but don't know for sure.

David Stuart's Drawing of the Temple 19 Bench from Xultun

This is included in Marc Zender and Joel Skidmore's paper "Unearthing the Heavens: Classic Maya Murals and Astronomical Tables at Xultun, Guatemala". (

David has a drawing of an 819 day count with the distance number 1.16.17. The last 17 is shown with a filler. This should be an 18, not a 17, and what is drawn with the filler is actually a dot. Zender and Skidmore's text follows the drawing, so is incorrect as well.

The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives by Heather McKillup

Starting on page 277, she writes:

The Maya Long Count differs from the Maya's regular counting system in that the third position of Maya counting (multiples of 400) was substituted with multiples of 365 to represent the 365-day year (of 18 months and 20 days, with 5 extra days). A date on a Classic period stela was read from top to bottom in five groups. The top numbers rferred to the number of Baktuns (perios of 400 years or 20 x 20 x 365 days; the next group of numbers referred to the number of Katuns (periods of 20 years or 20 x 365 days; the thir group refrred to the number of Tuns (365-day periods or Maya years;...Adding the number provided the number of days months, and years that had elapsed since the beginning of Maya time, September 8, 3114 B.C.

There is just so much wrong in those sentences. The Tun was 360 days, not 365. So all of the 365s in the above need to be replaced with 360. The Haab was 365, so it had the extra five days, whereas the Tun did not. The starting date of the Maya calendar was August 11, 3114 in the Gregorian Calendar and September 6th, in the Julian in the GMT 584283 correlation or two days later on September 8th, if you use the alternate correlation number of 584285. However, on the following pages where she lists the beginning date as August 18. On page 281, she says:

From the beginning date of the Maya calendar of August 18, 3114 B.C., a complete cycle of 13 Baktuns will end on December 21, A.D. 2012, corresponding to the winter solstice or, which is 4 Ahau 3 Kankin. At that point, theoretically, the count will start at zero again.

On this page, she is using the a completely different starting date from what she used before that can't be correct. Furthermore, since the only way September 8th works is by using the 584285 correlation number, which would place the end of the 13th Bak'tun on December 23, not December 21, and that is not a winter solstice. Furthermore. on the West Panel of the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque, there is the date 5 Lamat 1 Mol. This Calendar Round can only be correctly found if there are a 14th through 20th Bak'tun, so the Maya Calendar does not roll back to zero.