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Lasers Reveal Sites Used For The Oldest Known Star Calendars In The America

A recent research reveals that 3,100 years ago, Olmec and Maya people living on the Gulf Coast of Mexico constructed star-aligned ceremonial sites to keep track of crucial days of a 260-day calendar. The lasers reveal sites used for the oldest star calendars in the America.

Daisy-Mae Schmitt
Jan 08, 202389 Shares29684 Views
A recent research reveals that 3,100 years ago, Olmec and Maya people living on the Gulf Coast of Mexico constructed star-aligned ceremonial sites to keep track of crucial days of a 260-day calendar. The lasers reveal sites used for the oldest star calendarsin the America.
Nearly a millennium after its first use, around 300–200 B.C., the earliest written evidence of this calendar was discovered on painted plaster mural pieces from a Maya site in Guatemala. Experts have long hypothesized that Olmec communities on the Gulf Coast evolved a 260-day calendar hundreds of years before the rest of the world.

Airborne Laser Mapping Technique

Archaeologist Ivan prajc and his colleagues believe they have discovered the astronomical orientations of 415 ceremonial structures built between around 1100 B.C. and A.D. 250 using an aerial laser-mapping method called light detection and ranging, or lidar.
The scientists describe their findings on January 6 in Science Advances. They found that the majority of ritual sites were oriented along an east-to-west axis, which corresponded to sunrises or other astronomical occurrences on particular days of a 260-day year.
These results suggest that the Americas had one of the oldest examples of a structured calendar system that integrated astronomical knowledge with terrestrial buildings. During a 260-day period of a complete year, this system employed astronomical phenomena to mark significant occasions.
The 260-day cycle materialized in Mesoamerica’s earliest known monumental complexes [and was used] for scheduling seasonal, subsistence-related ceremonies. We cannot be certain exactly when and where it was invented.- Šprajc, Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana

Lasers reveal sites used as the Americas’ oldest known star calendars

Olmec Culture

However, archaeologist Stephen Houston of Brown University in Providence, R.I., who did not take part in the current research, adds that not all of the earliest ceremonial places detected by lidar are easily categorized as belonging to the Olmec civilisation.
The time period of the Olmec civilization is from 3,500 to 2,400 years ago. It is unknown how the Olmec and the succeeding Maya civilisation, famous for its Classic period cities and kingdoms that existed between around 1,750 and 1,100 years ago, are connected. However, the 260-day calendar is also mentioned in Classic Maya writings and inscriptions.
It has been suggested by prajc and coworkers that nomadic communities in Mesoamerica, an ancient cultural area stretching from central Mexico to Central America, used the 260-day calendar to plan huge, seasonal celebrations long before it became popular among Classic Maya monarchs.
With the introduction of maize agriculture to Mesoamerica at roughly the 3,000-year mark, they speculate that the same calendar may have documented days of significant agricultural activity or rites. Even today, the Maya 260-day calendar is used by certain tribes to plan their maize harvests and agricultural ceremonies.
According to previous lidar data, by about 3,400 years ago, several Olmec and Maya sites along the Gulf Coast of Mexico had constructed ceremonial complexes based on a shared plan. The alignments of ceremonial sites have only recently shown their astronomical importance.

Position Of Sunrises On February 11 And October 29

The new analysis found that the most prevalent architectural alignment matched to the location of sunrises on February 11 and October 29, when the complexes were in operation. These dates were separated by 260 days. These complexes faced east, toward a point on the horizon where the sun rose on those two mornings, and were thus oriented to receive morning sunlight.
One more common orientation matched sunrises that were spaced out by 130 days, which is exactly half of the whole 260-day count.
In the 260-day year, only a small percentage of ritual complexes were timed to coincide with the solstices, which are the longest and shortest days of the year, quarter days, which are the halfway of each half of the year, or lunar cycles. Other institutions monitored the location of Venus, a star that was thought to be connected to the wet season and the cultivation of maize.
The intervals of time between sunrises and sunsets that were recorded at ceremonial sites were often multiples of 13 or 20 days. According to prjc, the Maya people and other Mesoamerican communities have long connected the numbers 13 and 20 with a variety of gods and holy notions. These associations predate the time when the numerals 13 and 20 were used to indicate fundamental mathematical units of a 260-day year.

Final Words

The results of future excavations of ceremonial complexes discovered by lidar may reveal whether or not ancient cultures officially designated particular buildings to certain days in the 260-day year.
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