The ancient Mesoamerica Maya-Azteca cultures were more advanced in the science of astronomy than their contemporaries in Europe and Asia. They even took astronomy into consideration how they laid out the core of their cities, placing buildings not just taking into consideration the four cardinal directions but placing obser
vatories strategically to study the sky.
No other ancient society recorded as accurate observations of celestial phenomena as the Maya (and later the Azteca) did, and they measured time with obsessively elaborate precision. Their Long-Count Calendar, which predicts our world will come to an end on 2012, was infinitely more advanced than anything the Old World had when Cortez conquered the Aztecs militarily in the 16th century.
-- Did their astronomical observations have a practical purpose?
In some regards, they did. In ancient times, the sky was an integral part of daily life – people looked to the sky not just to see whether they needed an umbrella, but for guidance on how to cross a sea, the route caravans took, when crops were to be planted and harvested, and even to predict future events.