Time in Maya Culture
Classic Maya culture developed from the second to the tenth centuries AD and expanded to encompass all of the Yucatan peninsula including the modern countries of Guatemala, Belize, and portions of El Salvador and Honduras. Unlike the Aztec and Inca states, which developed highly centralized imperial cities, the Maya developed city‐states. Elites intermarried, formed alliances, and shared a complex calendar.
While all empires have created multiple times to connect village community to imperial center, and earthly city to heavenly city, the historian Nancy Farriss has noted that “from their earliest recorded history, the Maya displayed an intense interest, bordering on obsession, in measuring and recording the passage of time.” Anthony Aveni (1989) observes, “The first bits of information in any Maya inscription are about time. What sets the Maya apart is not the number of time units they devised, or even their complexity; rather, it is their preoccupation with ‘commensurateness’ –...
- Aveni, Anthony. Empires of Time: Calendars, Clocks, and Cultures. New York: Basic Books, 1989.Google Scholar
- Farriss, Nancy. Remembering the Future, Anticipating the Past: History, Time, and Cosmology Among the Maya of Yucatan. Comparative Studies in Society and History 29.3 (1987): 566–93.Google Scholar
- Tedlock, Barbara. Time and the Highland Maya. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982.Google Scholar