The Mayan Calendar is said to be nearing the end of a “long count”, which is believed by some to signal an apocalyptic change. On one of our trips to the Riviera Maya, we visited Chichen Itza which contains the ruins of a city from over 1500 years ago. While the Europeans were suffering through the Dark Ages, along the Yucatan Penisula and across Mexico a civilization was flurishing that had incredible astronomical knowledge. For example, at Chichen Itza you can see a four sided pyramid that has 365 levels from top to bottom. Known as the Pyramid of Kukulcan, this remnent from the lost civilization is laid out such that two of its edges have carved serpents heads on the lowest level. On the Spring and Fall equinox, the shadows of the pyramid levels falling on one another along the edges form the shadowy body of the serpent coming down the pyramid and the ending at the sculptured head. If you go back to the long count on the Mayan Calendar, a recent explanation helped understand what the long count relates to: when the earth in its transit crosses the mid-pooint of a glactic or universal divide. Apparently it does this every 5,800 years. So, how did the Mayans know this? Or is this just coincidence explained by science?
At any rate, this year might be a good time to take that Vacation to Cancun or Puerto Morales and run down the road to Chichen Itza. If you do, plan for a full day and then you won’t see it all. In addition to the Pyramid of Kukulcan, there is also an ancient stadium at which the teams competed for honor in a deadly game resembling Lacrosse. Within walking distance is an observatory housing and Cenotes in which cerimonial sacrifices were made. I’ll come back and write about these on another day.