We have come to accept the fact that it’s REALLY, REALLY HARD to believe much of anything that’s on the Internet–including this most important of points–about representations of the Maya Calendar anywhere from stock trading commercials to the breadth of the Google Image page on “Maya Calendar.” The problem here is this–this is NOT the Maya Calendar–it’s the Aztex “Calendar Stone,” and came after the fall of the Maya–the ancient Maya never even saw this rock!
This image, a circular stone, also known as the Altar of Axayacatl, features eight triangular sun rays, the Sun God Tonatiuh in the middle sporting a tongue of flint. Surrounding him, per Dr. Mark Van Stone’s book, 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, is a “giant X-shaped date 4-Ollin, the date of the latest creation“–there are five that were believed by the Aztecs to have happened over time.
Now in all fairness, the Aztec apparently did rely on the teachings and beliefs of the Maya as they came up with their own creation stories. There are similar dates and what Van Stone refers to as a “rhetorical structure” to the Maya’s famed Popol Vuh, record of creation. But as Dr. Van Stone points out in his book, “The Aztecs either received a corrupted account of the Maya Creation, or deliberately changed it,” because they have significant differences, at least in the minds of scholars.
Beware of 2012 Meme Exaggerations and Errors of Fact
We say all this to emphasize that as the hype about Dec. 21, 2012 builds between now and the December Solstice, it’s important to remember that relying on information just posted by anyone on the 2012 Meme can be as reliable as–the Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines. The images were populated by people who posted information and did so erroneously. Then someone else came along, grabbed an image of the Mayan calendar, stuck it on their website, in a TV commercial or a magazine or newspaper story, and all of the sudden, the Aztecs were converted to Maya and a major historical distortion happened.
Which leads to an argument we’d like to continue some other time. Some archeologists like to pose–that even though traditions and histories weren’t written down for hundreds of years–they were still preserved orally and “vary accurately.” One certainly must wonder about the accuracy of oral stories shared for hundreds of years when the Internet has been around for 20 or so and with all our technology today, we can’t even keep the Mayan Calendar straight….. Again, that’s a conversation for another day.
The Madrid Codex
Now for the REAL Maya Calendar–Check out the Madrid Codex, which certainly isn’t as colorful, sexy or some would say as “pretty” as the Aztec Calendar Stone. This is an actual drawing done by a Maya artist. Dr. Van Stone says comparing the two calendars is like “portraying the Colosseum when talking about Classical Athens.” Different countries. Different times. Different everything.
The Mayan Calendar Wheel
We also wanted to point out this representation that’s out in circulation as well. It’s often called the Mayan Calendar Wheel. Problem is? The Maya didn’t have the wheel. Now maybe they used it on kid’s toys and not with beasts of burden to transport rocks and trees and the like, but one also has to stop and think. Is it ethically right to demonstrate the concept of their calendar using this, when they didn’t employ such technology and certainly never drew it out to work like this.
What do you think? Is it poor science to use the diagram to the left to portray something they could not have done circa 800 AD in Mesoamerica?
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