However far back the calendars origins may go, something definite happened during the 1st millennium BCE: calendar dates started to be carved in stone — time became materialized. Classic lowland Maya rulers are the epitome of this millennium-long process, showing off their control of time and its rituals in beautiful, intricately carved monuments.
To mark time’s passage, the erection of stelae and sometimes whole monumental complexes commemorated period endings of the Long Count calendar — dedicated to the kingly responsibility of renewing the grand cycles of cosmic time. Katun period endings in particular were considered critical times and the greatest of ritual occasion. These ceremonies involved casting incense, drilling fire, human sacrifices, and binding of stones rituals. Large erected stones portrayed divine kings in a perpetual state of ritual action, tending to the proper coming and going of time periods — much like one tends to a cornfield. Active participants and intermediaries in a great cosmic drama, vital to the passage of time. Mortal kings associated with immortal ancestors, lords of time.
Thus the Long Count became inextricably woven with kingship, astronomy, building dedications, sacrifice, warfare, mythology, huge-distance number calculations, and ritually timed ceremony. Rulers calculated their genealogical descent to exalt and proclaim the exceptional longevity of their bloodline — both mythological and historical. With this fusion of political history and time, power was reinforced, stability maintained. In this grand and serious cosmic game, the calendar stood above all — its count serving to shape and fold entire dynastic histories (such as in Copan and Palenque).