IZAPA: BIRTHPLACE OF TIME

 


Home Page of Vincent H. Malmström -- Dartmouth College


The Pre-Columbian peoples of Mesoamerica -- the vast cultural realm which
embraced most of central and southern Mexico, Guatemala, and the western
portions of Honduras and El Salvador -- were united in their usage of an elaborate
time-reckoning system composed of both a 260-day sacred almanac and a 365-day
secular calendar. Once supposed to have been the creation of the Mayas, it is now
realized that the Mesoamerican calendars had their origin amongst a shadowy
people known as the "Olmecs", whose culture reached the zenith of its development
in the tropical lowlands bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Although the "Olmecs" are
now recognized as "the mother culture" of Mesoamerica, their own origins have
long remained a mystery -- ironically, a mystery whose solution lies in the very
calendrical system which they created.

For an explanation of where the "Olmecs" came from, and why, when, and how
they developed, first, a sacred almanac with 260 days, then shortly thereafter, a
secular calendar with 365 days, and finally an ingenious method of combining
them into a precise day-count pre-dating a similar invention in Europe by 1800
years, the reader is referred to my recent book titled "Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries
of the Moon: The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization" published by the
University of Texas Press.

In my unraveling of the "Olmec" mystery, I
discovered that most of the key clues came
from a handful of archaeological sites,
among them IZAPA, TEOTIHUACAN,
EDZNA, TIKAL, and TEOPANTE-
CUANITLAN. Therefore, on this, my
home page, I have opted to present some of
the critical evidence which each of these
places has provided. Yet, even as this
volume was going to press, several
additional "discoveries" came to light
which were published in an article in the
Mexican journal Arqueología, Segunda
Época, Enero-Junio 1999, pages 109-117.
An English version of this paper may be
accessed by clicking on "Astronomical Footnotes".

(Because my book became so quickly "out of
print", I have made a copy of it available online.
It may accessed by clicking on the photo at the left.
However, thanks to a second printing in March 2010,
copies are again available from the UT Press.)

(Other Publications)

 

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