Astronomy in Mesoamerica

  • Martha J. Macri
Reference work entry

Mesoamerica extends from northern central Mexico into Nicaragua. The region contains dozens of distinctive ethnic groups. Shared linguistic features, ceremonies, and mythic traditions show that these diverse peoples have been in intimate contact with one another for thousands of years. One of their shared intellectual achievements is their understanding of the cosmos. A long history of observing and recording astronomical phenomena has allowed them to establish amazingly precise measurements of the cycles of the earth, sun, moon, and the visible planets. Much of the indigenous knowledge in this region did not survive the initial years of violence and disease, which were followed by centuries of less dramatic, but equally destructive political and economic oppression. Nevertheless, among specialists in many contemporary indigenous communities (day‐keepers, calendar priests, community scholars), fragments of the ancient knowledge are retained today. Further evidence comes from...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Martha J. Macri

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