Origins of Mesoamerican astronomy and calendar: Evidence from the Olmec and Maya regions

Ivan Šprajc, Takeshi Inomata, Anthony F. Aveni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Archaeoastronomical studies have demonstrated that the important civic and ceremonial buildings in Mesoamerica were largely oriented to sunrises or sunsets on specific dates, but the origin and spread of orientation practices were not clear. Using aerial laser scanning (lidar) data, we analyzed orientations of a large number of ceremonial complexes in the area along the southern Gulf Coast, including many recently identified Formative sites dating to 1100 BCE to 250 CE. The distribution pattern of dates marked by solar alignments indicates their subsistence-related ritual significance. The orientations of complexes built between 1100 and 750 BCE, in particular, represent the earliest evidence of the use of the 260-day calendar, centuries earlier than its previously known use in textual records.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabq7675
JournalScience Advances
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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