National Geographic : 1922 Feb
126 THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE COO 19 Mol 11 Zac 14 Mac 8 Pax January 1 February 22 April 6 May 30 0 0 0 0 O }<0 p00 3 Cumhu 18 Zotz 8 Xul 12 Mol July 4 October 12 November 11 December 25 THE MAYA EQUIVALENTS FOR OUR PRINCIPAL HOLIDAYS Every day of the Maya year had its corresponding hieroglyph. In 1566, when Bishop Landa wrote his famous "History of the Things of Yucatan," the Maya year began on July 16 (Old Style) or July 26 (New Style). On the basis of this correlation the Mayan equiva lents for some of our principal holidays are given above, the numbers in bars and dots at the left indicating the positions in the months, and the signs to the right the names of the corresponding Maya months. 5x360=1800 x 4x20=80 I 6x 20= 120 S 13x113 0 5x1=5 01= 1 NUMBER 13 85 1921 I l1X 7200= 72000 000 I II 8X360 = 2880 0 S6 X20 = 120 Ox1 = 00 75000 THE HIGHER MAYA NUMBERS Our own- arithmetical system is decimal, the values of the terms increasing from left or right of the decimal point in a ratio of io. The Maya arithmetical system was vigesimal that is, the values of the terms increased from bottom to top in a ratio of 20, except in the caseofthethirdterm, whichwas360(i. e., I X20X18) instead of400(i. e., I X20X20). This break in an otherwise perfect vigesimal system was probably due to the desire to bring its third term as near to the length of the solar year as possible. The first number above is 13, i. e ., 13 units of the first order, or 13 X I. The second number is 85, which the Maya wrote as 5 units of the first order, or 5, and 4 units of the second order, or 4 X I X 20= 80; and 5 + 8o= 85. The third number is 1,921, i. e., I unit of the first order, 6 units of the second order (6 X I X 20 = 120), and 5 units of the third order (5 X I X 20 X i8 = 1,800); all of which, added together, give I + 120 + I,8oo - 1,921. The fourth number is 75,000, i. e., o units of the first order, 6 units of the second order (6XIX20= 120),8unitsofthethirdorder (8XIX20X18=2,880), andIounitsofthe fourthorder (IoX IX20X18X20= 72,000);allof which, addedtogether, give o+ 120+ 2,880 + 72,000 = 75,000. By this method the Maya could write numbers as high as 64,000,000.