On Hochleitner’s Correlation


May 16th, 1994

Dear Milo Rae Gardner,


When I returned from Guatemala in late March, I read your two letters with some interest. In response, not having the time to re-state my position as revealed in the letter I sent in February (here), I instead sent a flyer about the 3 publications I offer.


These books contain pretty much everything I have to say about these issues. I believe our correspondence began by  debating the correlation question; Lounsbury vs. Thompson, as well as the work of Hochleitner as you mentioned. My book Tzolkin discusses the various proposed correlations in some detail, finally siding with the "Thompson" correlation, the "GMT" correlation (Julian day 584283 = I then went to the trouble to summarize the erroneous claims of Lounsbury (in the previous letter included), and his fallacious support of the 584285 correlation. Why haven't you responded to this? If you continue to support research which implies a correlation-constant other than the 584283 (the one that corresponds to the count still followed in Guatemala), where does that leave the present day Maya? If you find value in Hochleitner's work, of which I know just a little, can you summarize his goals and exactly what he is saying in a few sentences for me? Frankly, I have a hard time following your arguments. It seems that you are working at a theoretical mathematical level beyond me. Computer analysis of Mayan astronomical inscriptions is no doubt extremely important, and you say that Hochleitner has found a common thread, an "adjustment" system running through all of the codices? Please clarify. The bottom line is that I feel Hochleitner is working on a very theoretical level, and is not considering the overwhelming ethnographic evidence in support of the 584283. In other words, he does not consider his theoretical speculations as disinformation which can harm the calendar tradition of the modern Maya. Theoretical analysis can generate many different valid solu­tions.


I note that over the years, Hochleitner has proposed no less than 8 different correla­tions: 578585 (1970), 577264 (1972), 674265 (1972), 660205 (1974), 609417 (1974), 507994 (1974), 508362 (1974) 525698 (1974). None of these are commensurate by multiples of 260 with the correlation in use by the Maya (the 584283). This is pretty revealing of Hochleitner's approach, and how much he values the ethnographic reality. This should pretty much close the debate.


As said before, I feel that Hochleitner is probably working on a very theoretical level. Perhaps he has found some common thread of some kind running through the various codices. No doubt there are many. The article you sent, "Astronomical Clues crack the Calendar's Code", claims that Hochleitner's new "decipherment" will "allow him to date important events described in the documents." This is nothing new; it's already been done, tested, tried and true via the 584283. Overall, this brief article is a facile summary of Hochleitner's work and tells me nothing. Can you sum up the important facets of his work which relate to this ongoing correlation debate? Please send me something substantial—no heavy math—to answer these questions:


1) Does Hochleitner, in fact, offer a correlation constant different than the 584283?


2) If so, is his correlation-constant different from the 584283 by a multiple of 260?


3) Why does Hochleitner not agree with the 584283? 


You mention Campbell. You probably refer to Paul Douglas Campbell's Astronomy and the Maya Calendar Correlation (Aegean Park Press, ph: 714-586-8811). As with Severin's The Paris Codex: Decoding an Astronomical Ephemeris, Campbell's study must be looked at closely with a discriminating mind. We need to be careful with these Lounsbury-like studies. There are many number games one can play with the Mayan Calendar, and they can seem to be logically cohesive. I don't have anything against exploring the Calendar's properties in this way; as long as modern work is differentiated from what we can be sure was/is specifically held by the Maya themselves. There is some amount of truth and some amount of illusion in these studies. Any of them may provide the real clue to the nmext big breakthrough, but to hold it up high and shout "truth" is probably not a good idea.


In my book Tzolkin, I reconstruct and, as an exercise, reinaugurate the Mayan Venus Calendar of the Dreaden Codex. I clearly provide the disclaimer stating that "this is not what the Maya followed." Nevertheless, the exercise revealed some interesting properties of the Venus Calendar that would not have been discovered otherwise. I also explored the astronomical properties of the 13-sign zodiac, and the inherent capability of the Long Count to predict future solstice dates (thus possibly explaining the Dec. 21st 2012 end date of the Long Count). I also suggest how the Venus Calendar in the Dresden Codex may have evolved into a superior one adopted by the Ixil and/or Quiché Maya people circa 1250 A.D. Tzolkin provides the details, but again, everything is offered in the spirit of inventiveness, not graven-in-stone truth.


Hope this finds you well, and your work enjoyable

Best Wishes

John M Jenkins


Note: This last letter to Gardner was sent in May 1994, in response to his letter recieved early that month. He also seems to have exchanged letters with Linda Schele - in fact he apparently brought up the same questions with Linda that he did with me. They may have been copies of the same set of queries regarding the correlation question, since Linda's response, which she posted to the new Aztlan email list in April 1996, questioned Gardner's reference to a "fourth Maya codex", as I had done. Linda's posting to the Aztlan list of her response to Gardner was intended to clarify increasing questions about 2012 being the end-date; she followed it with an additional newly written posting, called "Comments on the Creation Date." It is this posting, which was largely intended to demolish New Age 2012 books like Mayan Prophecies and Fingerprints of the Gods, that scholars continue to refer to in order to refute the importance of 2012. Yet Schele's argument has serious problems, and I had responded to it in great detail, immediately in 1996, and sent it to Schele. An abridged version of my response became an appendix in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. I have not been able to engage in a dialogue about my objections to Schele's views, and unfortunately I never received a response from Schele after sending it to her. I believe I sent a notice to the Aztlan list in 1996 about it being posted to my website (it is still there).