Splendid ball courts still stand at Tikal, Copán, Chichén Itzá, and several other Maya sites

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The Maya priests were obsessed with time, to which they assigned an occult or magical content. Maya priests thought of time as burdens carried on the backs of gods. Their calendars were complex and used several interlocking cycles of time. At the end of a certain period, one god laid down his burden for another god to pick up and continue on the journey of time.

The Maya’s calendric precision would have been impossible without very detailed astronomical records. Maya astronomers had exact knowledge of the phases of the moon and the cycle of the planet Venus. Perhaps their most noteworthy accomplishment besides the calendars was the ability to predict the days on which eclipses of the sun or the moon would take place. Maya priests used this knowledge to impress their followers, who viewed eclipses as extremely dangerous events. To develop their knowledge so fully, the Maya must have had a corps of highly trained and specialized astronomers, a long and accurate record of observations, and a system of communication that kept observers from different sites, such as Copán and Palenque, in touch with each other’s work.

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