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AZTEC CALENDAR

Slightly confusing at first Aztec method of measuring time. Bear with me i think i've worked it out...

The Aztecs had two calendars — the first 'xiuhpohualli' had 360 days, being made up of 18 months of 20 days each with five days of misery bolted on right at the end. This 5 day period was known as 'Nemontemi' and made a nice round 365 days-a solar year.

They also had a calendar known as 'tonalpohualli' was the ritual or sacred calendar consisting of 260 days. This year is divided into weeks, each week contains 13 days and each of the thirteen days is numbered 1 to 13. Thats the easy bit. There are also 20 day signs (13 days (a week) x 20 (day signs) = 260 ) Each day sign has a number, a name and is dedicated to a God.

Each of the thirteen-day-weeks is known as a 'Trecena' and is governed by a God. This is how the Aztecs worked out who ruled what ...

Imagine two cogs, one has the 13 day weeks (1-13) and the other has the 20 day signs (1-20) printed on them. The cogs move in tandom with "1" of the 1-13 day week and "1" of the 1-20 day signs being the starting point for both cogs. This would signal day one of the trecena of God one. As the week cog clicks onto day two so the sign cog moves onto sign two, and so on. Day 13 is the last day of the 13 day week, so as the day cog clicks around onto day "1" again the sign cog moves onto "14"-this now becomes day one of God 14's 13 day reign.

So, if the the first day of the twenty day signs was called 'bacon' and was dedicated to 'God sausage' and the thirteenth day of the 20 day signs was called 'eggs' .. Then God sausage would rule the period from 1 bacon to 13 eggs.

Remarkably, with both calendars running side by side — and using a formula i'm not even gonna try to work out — the same date would only be repeated once every 18,980 days .. thats 52 years.

Wiping the sweat from their brows and understandably relieved that they had got their calculations right, the Aztecs had a 12 day piss up, followed by the setting on fire and heart removal of a 'volunteer' .. you know, just to make sure the sun shines for another 52 years.
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'AZTEC CALENDAR' - Aztec entry : 21st December 2007
Page last modified on 09 Sep 2010
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