Lunar series
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Maya culture

Complementary series, lunar series and correlation



The Mayan calendar, introduced 2000 years ago, is designed with the security of the date being on top priority.For each Long count date only one calendar round date (a Tzolkin or a Haab date) is possible. The complementary series with the Lord of the Night (Hieroglyph G) and the Lunar series (Hieroglyphs F, Z, Y, D, E, C, X, A , B) are elements of this system of securing the date. The link of the age of the moon (Hieroglyph D/E) to a certain date till now hasn't been stated by any other calendar of other ancient cultures.

Taking as an example lintel 21 in Yaxchilan ( s. Coe, 1992; p. 182/330 ) the hieroglyphs are explained according to Long Count and Tzolkin date 2 Kan:

      G = Lord of the Night (one of 9 ) here G8,
      F =  meaning unknown, missing,
      Z and Y = meaning unknown,
      D = age of moon 0 – 19, here 7 days,     
      E = age of moon, if more than 20 days, missing,
      C = lunations after last eclipse, here 3,
      X = god of lunation,
      A = length of lunation, here 29 days,
      B = meaning unknown, missing.
      The listing is finished with the Haab date: here 2 Yax.

For a large part of date listings a shortened version of the lunar series was used.

The lunar series is an important item for checking the correlation number for its correctness. Especially hieroglyphs D/E and C are of utmost importance. If there is no congruence of the hieroglyphs D/E and C when transferring a Mayan date into the Julian calendar, either there is  a writing error, or the correlation number used is incorrect. (Today the basis of the eclipse days are considered as safe, e.g. Fred Espenak's tables, NASA, or a conventional astronomical software, such as RedShift.)

The Maya astronomers were familiar with the complicated lunar orbit, as is to be seen in the eclipse table of the Dresden Codex, where not only after 6 lunar orbits but also after 5 lunar orbits a solar eclipse follows. It has to be taken into account that in some city states the rules of 6/5 were used in a different way and therefore some hieroglyphs C are incorrect. But it also means that there have to be some correct hieroglyphs C.


Reviewing the date with GMT = MDN (Maya Day Number)          1302884
GMT (often termed as „astronomical“          +   584285
= JD  (Julian date)                                             1887169
Julian calendar                                             = 15.10.454
Hieroglyph D 7 days                                    =   8.10.454  new moon  = 7.10.454
Hieroglyph C 3 lunations                             = 11.07.454 
no day of eclipse

Reviewing the date with my correlation number = MDN (Maya Day Number)          1302884
Correlation number Stock                              +  556408
= JD  (Julian date)                                             1859292
Julian calendar                                             = 19.06.378
Hieroglyph D 7 days                                    = 12.06.378  new moon = 11.06.378
Hieroglyph C 3 lunations                             = 15.03.378 
day of eclipse


Comparison day of eclipse with and (eclipse table)

MDN                   1302884                                             1412848
584285                                                584285
JD                       1887169                                             1997133
- Hiero. DC     =            96
JD                    = 1887073                                             1997133
Next day of
eclipse                1887102                                             1997162
+ 29 days                                           + 29 days

This comparison verifies unambiguously, that GMT does not concur with the days of eclipse and therefore – astronomically seen - can't be maintained as a correlation number. Not only with the data mentioned above, but with many others as well it is to be seen that GMT is always pointing to a day of eclipse 1 lunar orbit later.

The comparison with my correlation number 556408 has the following result:

Comparison day of eclipse with and (eclipse table)

MDN                   1302884                                            1412848
corr. Stock           
556408                                              556408
JD                        1859292                                            1969256
- Hiero. DC      =            96
JD                     = 1859196                                            1969256
Next day of
eclipse                1859196                                             1969256
       0 days                                                 0 days

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Copyright 2010 Anton Stock

Last updated January, 2010