By 1,800 years ago, speakers of proto-Ch’olan, the ancestor of three present-day Maya languages, developed a calendar of eighteen twenty-day months and a set of five days to make a year. One former New Mexico State University adjunct professor has spent years studying the “firsts” and the “whys” of it.
Weldon Lamb, retired adjunct professor for the Department of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, will be presenting his work and answering questions at his lecture and book signing from 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20 at NMSU’s University Museum.
Lamb has been researching Maya astronomy, calendrics and hieroglyphic writing for many years. Lamb’s “The Maya Calendar” is the first publication since 1884 to include accurate, photo-based images of the Yukatek Maya hieroglyphs for the months.
“This book represents an improved form of my dissertation, further researched and more reader-friendly,” said Lamb. “It offers a number of useful “firsts” in the study of the Maya calendar.”
In “The Maya Calendar,” Lamb collects, defines and correlates the names of months in every recorded Maya traditions from the very first hieroglyphic inscriptions to the present.
While many people have studied the calendar, Lamb plans to bring to the lecture a few things that he has discovered solely from his research to the lecture. His book is organized into sections, including the first collection of all the month names of the fifteen distinct, language-based sets, the first accurate translations of all these names, the first collection of all the unusual variants of the hieroglyphic set, the first attempt to trace the development of the normal hieroglyphic months into their later counterparts, first recorded 500-1000 years after the Maya stopped carving dates and the first look at the starting dates for the months considering astronomy and invaders, including the Aztecs.
“My hopes for the lecture are that attendees will likely understand the workings of the 365-day Maya calendar,” said Lamb. “I want them to appreciate the beauty of the hieroglyphs, and learn about solstices as well as zenith passages, then cognates, homonyms and synonyms.”
This lecture is free and open to the public. The University Museum is located in Kent Hall on the NMSU campus. Museum hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Campus parking passes for visitors are available at http://auxadminforms.nmsu.edu/
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