Astronomy in Mesoamerica

  • Michael J. Grofe
Living reference work entry

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Astronomy in Mesoamerica developed in apparent isolation from the cultural traditions outside of the Americas and its unique advancement provides an important comparison with parallel developments of astronomical science elsewhere in the world. Containing hundreds of distinct ethnic groups and indigenous languages, the Mesoamerican culture area extends south from central Mexico into Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. While highly diverse, many of the cultures and language groups in this region share innovations such as intensive maize agriculture, stratified urban development, megalithic architecture, and an elaborate calendrical system consisting of a unique, repeating cycle of 260 days and a cycle of 365 days that estimates the length of the year. Together, these cycles combine to form the 52-year Calendar Round, historically shared by more than 50 linguistic groups in Mesoamerica.

It is clear that the development of writing in Mesoamerica was deeply interwoven...


Fixed Cycle Maya Area Distance Number Maya Site Lunar Data 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sacramento City CollegeSacramentoUSA