The mathematical basis of the Mayan Calendar has proved to be far more accurate over the long term. This is due to the two factors:

*Because Central America is located between the tropics of Cancer
and Capricorn, the area is an ideal place to develop an accurate
calendar, Macri points out. Only in these latitudes is it possible to
observe precise solar zeniths, or when the sun is at the center of the sky at noon.
By about 200 B.C., people living along the Gulf Coast in Central
America developed the Long Count through their observations of the
solar zeniths. The count forms the basis of the more extensive
Mesoamerican calendar. The Long Count, with its 13 full cycles of 400
years each, accurately extends back to 3114 B.C., which is when the
current era was supposed to have begun.
*

One wonders how far less accurate Stonehenge is. The religion incorporated observation and calculation: a gentle reminder that knowledge has been embedded in faith far longer than in science.

To handle the uneven counting during leap years, the Long Count developers created an elegant mathematical solution, Macri says.

"They saw how leap years shifted over thousands
of days," Macri says. "So, to deal with the fractions, they expressed
the numbers by multiplying to get a full number, thus allowing for a
more accurate calendar over a long period."

In their observations of solar, lunar and planetary movements over
time, the Native Americans were able to create complex mathematical
tables. To this day, "daykeepers" in the Guatemala highland serve as
Mesoamerican calendar priests by continuing to observe the skies and
note their observations, Macri says.

Graduate student Grofe has examined the complex tables used to
record the counting cycles that the Mayans used to create accurate
projections thousands of years into the past and the future.

"Although computers can calculate time now, these people were very
capable of observation and empirical science," says Grofe, who also
holds biology and anthropology degrees. "Using complex tables, they
recorded unbroken counting cycles over thousands of years."