General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Nov 2017/5 Eagle
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Professor Michael Coe

Question for November 2016

Who invented the 20-day calendar? Asked by Gateway Primary School. Chosen and answered by Professor Michael Coe.

 (Click on image to enlarge)

Probably the Olmecs, the oldest civilisation in Mesoamerica, predating even the Maya. This civilisation began about 3,500 years ago on the Gulf Coast plain of southeast Mexico.

Our In-House Team adds: It’s generally known that the use of 20 days reflects the ancient Mesoamerican way of counting - in 20s - based on our having 20 fingers and toes.

Picture
’Signes Hieroglyphiques des Jours de L’Almanach Mexicain’ (‘Hieroglyphic day signs from the Mexican Calendar’) - scanned from a loose insert in our copy of The Gods of Mexico by Lewis Spence, London, 1923. NOTE: The 20 signs start bottom right with Crocodile/Alligator and end top left with Flower.

Professor Michael Coe has answered 5 questions altogether:

(Talking of jigsaw puzzle pieces) why do there seem to be two 5-number domino pieces at the bottom of the Movement sign in the middle of the Sunstone?

Were there any laws governing when you could get married and have children?

Did the Aztecs have ‘cenotes’ [sacred wells or sinkholes] or caves?

If you’re so into Aztec stuff, would you like to have lived in Aztec times?

Who invented the 20-day calendar?

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