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Ancient Mayan Book Shows Early Mathematical Innovations

Aug 18, 2016 02:22 PM EDT
Mayan Book
UC Santa Barbara researcher suggests that the Venus Table of Dresden Codex should be considered as mathematical and astromical innovations of the ancient Mayan civilization.
(Photo : Joern Haufe/Getty Images)

A researcher from the University of California, Santa Barbara by the name of Gerardo Aldana suggests that the ancient Mayan book Venus Table of Dresden Codex should be also considered as a remarkable innovation of the Mayan people in the field of Astronomy and Mathematics, not just an incredible feat in astrology.

In a paper written by Aldana and published in the Journal of Astronomy in Culture, he showed that the Venus Table should be considered as an achievement in Mayan Science and not just some numerological oddity.

"If you say it's just numerology that this date corresponds to; it's not based on anything you can see. And if you say, 'We're just going to manipulate them [the corrections written] until they give us the most accurate trajectory,' you're not confining that whole thing in any historical time," explained Aldana, a professor of anthropology and of Chicana and Chicano studies, in a statement.

The Venus Table is an ancient Mayan book that keep tracks the observable phases of the planet Venus. For the last 70 years, scientists and archeologists have insisted that the book was based in numerology, despite the accurate observation of Venus.

With the assumption that the Mayan people keep historical record of astronomical events and consulting it in the future, Aldana suggests that the Mayan people saw a pattern in their observation, just like what happened in the history of Western astronomy.

Using this assumption, Aldana discovered that the Mayan people used Venus not just to strictly chart when it will appear, but they were using their observation for ritual cycles. Based on this discovery, Aldana showed that an ancient Mayan astronomer observing Venus might have seen the progression of the planet and discovered it was a viable way to correct the calendar and to set their ritual events, resulting in the formation of the Mayan leap year.

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