a Thought on the Earliest Long Count Record

Some historians hypothesize that the Long Count was completely finalized in the first century BC as that is the occurrence of the oldest known Long Count inscription (36 BC at Chiapa de Corzo). It could be that earlier inscriptions have simply not made it to our time (being on destructible materials) or that earlier stone representations have just not yet been found.

Either way, the 36 BC occurrence remains the oldest about which we know. So, why did the Maya date the beginning of their calendar so much further back, like 3100 years further back?

And did they keep record of the days and years since that time in the prototype of the Long Count or some other system until it was finalized? Or was it truly as John Major Jenkins hypothesized that they simply back-dated the calendar to a random starting point in the past?

It is difficult to do more than speculate on this question. One thing that would help is knowing why they started it on the date in question. What happened then that should have been monumental enough to give birth to a new calendar?

There are many theories about this issue. The usual definition given from the Mayan documents was that it was the “birth” of the planet Venus. Most historians today brush that aside, saying it was only the appearance of Venus as the morning star before the Sun rose. I cannot see that would be such a momentous thing since it happens quite often. And I have not seen anyone offer any proof that this was the case.

Immanuel Velikovsky theorized that Venus was born out of the planet Jupiter (see his Worlds in Collision for the particulars. Practically all the scientific community, however, stick to their belief that Venus is about the same age as Earth so there should have been no life to witness it’s “birth” from Jupiter or elsewhere.

But, if Velikovsky was correct in his timeline of the birth of Venus and the subsequent encounters of our planet with others, the last encounter would have been around 685BC. This might have allowed the orbits to stabilize and the Maya could have made any adjustments required to complete the various cycles in their calendars. They could then have finalized the Long Count. This may have taken a few centuries to completely nail it down.

Hence the earliest records of the first century BC. There may be even older ones, but if this timetable is correct, they may not be too much older.

But, time may prove me wrong.

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