Cumulatives: Panel 53, section a, block VIII

This section is part of the Eclipse Table proper. These depict a list of "cumulative" numbers. It is "another series of dot-bar numerals," related to the series of 177- and 148- day intervals (Aveni, Skywatchers, 174). "If we add the lower number of a given column to the upper number of the previous column we arrive at the upper number in the next column... therefore, the upper numbers appear to be totals accumlated by repeated addition of the lower numbers. [That is, the numbers in this block are sums of the series (of 177 and 148) in the block above it.]

"To the attentive reader, two observations immediately should have suggested that these computations are related to eclipses: (a) the apparance in the table of the saros interval, 6,585, and (b) the near equivalence of 6 lunations and 177 days... and 5 lunations and 148 days. ...[Also] the number 177 is a very likely one to grace an eclipse table, for it lies close to the eclipse half year (174.5 days)... The intervals between the nine pictures are 1,842, 1,034, 1,210, 1,742, 1,034, 1,210, 1,565, and 1,211 days, all of which can be recognized as real eclipse cycles... Finally, the total number of days in the table is 11,958 (about 33 years) or very nearly 405 moons... Furthermore, this number is also commensurate with the 260-day cycles (46 x 260 = 11,960 = 405 moons); that is, it can be used to recover the same day of the Tzol kin with only a slight change in the phase of the moon. These conclusions lead us to a simple hypothesis: pages 51 to 58 of the Dresden Codex represent an eclipse table consisting of groups of five and six moons, the eclipses occurring at the positions of the pictures in table. Since ritual calendar dates constitute the bulk of the table, the document may have been intended to record the dates of actual eclipses in the ritual calendar.

"But is it a record of eclipses already witnessed or a document intended to warn of possible future eclipses? And what kind of eclipses? There seems little doubt that the Maya sought to predict eclipses because of the disaster which they believed threatened them on such occasions. ... Of course, predictions must be based upon recorded observations of actual eclipses..." (Aveni, Skywatchers, 177)


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