kaleidoscope // spring 2023

Cindy Cruz

graphic design // linkedin

The Maya Calendar: Cycles of Time
The Maya Calendar has been the subject of many doom-and-gloom, end-of-the-world scenarios, but it was the highly accurate dating system used by the Maya, a Mesoamerican civilization known for their great achievements in mathematics, astronomy, agriculture, and many other areas of knowledge. The earliest Maya date back to circa 2000 BCE, and they still exist in the present-day Yucatan peninsula. They covered territories ranging from modern-day Mexico, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and developed a complex culture at the height of their civilization, including establishing large city-states that helped further their own cultural advancements.

Although the Maya created around 20 calendars, their primary calendar system, one of the most accurate in history, is made up of three parts, the sacred Tzolk'in cycle comprised of 260 name days equivalent to the period of gestation, the solar Haab' cycle similar to our own containing 365 days, and a larger, cosmic Long Count cycle of 5,125 years that all work together to aid in their tracking of time.

My primary purpose with creating an infographic and a working model of their calendar system is to educate people about the Maya Calendar since it can be daunting, at first glance, to try to understand how it works. I also seek to call attention to the achievements of their incredible civilization, as I rarely see them highlighted anywhere in popular culture, which is a shame considering they were the most advanced Mesoamerican empire.