Ooooh, Precession!

It seems a lot of historical scientists (or is that ‘scientific historians’?) use the measure of precession as the yardstick of intelligence for ancient astronomers. If they can show knowledge of precession, then they must have been intelligent.

But what IS precession, really? Oh, a lot of writers will give you the technical details and the mathematical formulae for the mechanics, but what bearing has it on us? On our day-to-day world? On anything in history, for that matter?

Well, nothing. It really has no bearing on anything except calendars. And then, only on calendars spanning very long periods.

Nerds in the past noticed it as much as the nerds of today, but has it any bearing on the calendar? Other than showing us that the ancient Maya knew about the mechanism and could calculate the rate of change, it really has no bearing on the End-Date or anything else of importance.

Carrie Kozikowski (see earlier post) thought the Mayan Calendar showed precession was speeding up. Jenkins seems to think that precession is not only a constant (like most things astronomical, either constant or lasting unchanged for billions and billions of years) but is in fact the BASIS for all of Mayan cosmology. He thinks they based their entire calendar on the winter solstice Sun crossing the Galactic Center.

Which would mean the starting point of their calendar in 3114 BC was meaningless. Moreso because they had four previous periods wrapping around the entire precessional cycle.

But does that construction really make any sense? Why not just make the calendar 26,000 years long and stretch the start date back to 23614 BC?

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