Origin of The Tzolk'in
The exact origin of the Tzolk'in is not known, but there are several theories.
- One theory is that the calendar came from mathematical operations based on the numbers thirteen and twenty, which were important numbers to the Maya. The numbers multiplied together equal 260.
- Another theory is that the 260-day period came from the length of human pregnancy. This is close to the average number of days between the first missed menstrual period and birth, unlike Naegele's rule which is 40 weeks (280 days) between the last menstrual period and birth. It is postulated that midwives originally developed the calendar to predict babies' expected birth dates. The deity Ix Chel is thus of particular interest due to her mythic relation to the calendar.
- A third theory comes from understanding of astronomy, geography and archaeology. The mesoamerican calendar probably originated with the Olmecs, and a settlement existed at Izapa, in southeast Chiapas Mexico, before 1200 BC. There, at a latitude of about 15° N, the Sun passes through zenith twice a year, and there are 260 days between zenithal passages. Gnomons (used generally for observing the path of the Sun and in particular zenithal passages) were found at this and other sites.
- A fourth theory is that the calendar is based on agriculture. From planting to harvest is approximately 260 days.
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