Entries in Mayans (2)


Oldest Known Maya Calendar Found; No Signs of 2012 Doomsday

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Archaeologists, excavating the ninth-century Maya complex of Xultun in Guatemala, say they have found what may have been a workspace for the town’s scribe. Paintings on the walls, they report, appear to include calculations related to the Maya calendar.

The researchers, writing in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, say the calculations project 7,000 years into the future. There’s no hint that the calendar ends on Dec. 21, 2012, despite popular belief.

“Why would they go into those numbers if the world is going to come to an end this year?” said Anthony Aveni at Colgate University, a scholar of Maya  astronomy and a co-author of the paper. “You could say a number that big at least suggests that time marches on.”

Some of the hieroglyphs, painted in red and black, appear to represent regular cycles charted by the Maya, say the researchers — the 365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of the planet Venus and the 780-day cycle of Mars.

“For the first time we get to see what may be actual records kept by a scribe, whose job was to be official record keeper of a Maya community,” said William Saturno of Boston University, the lead author, in a statement put out by the publishers of Science. “It’s like an episode of TV’s Big Bang Theory, a geek math problem and they’re painting it on the wall. They seem to be using it like a blackboard.”

Xultún was actually found almost a century ago, but not excavated until now.  The structure in which the markings were found has three surviving plaster walls, say the researchers.  On one wall is a painting of a king, wearing a headpiece with blue feathers. Near him are numbers that correspond to previously-known cycles in the Maya calendar — and others that researchers had not seen before.

Saturno and his team say four long numbers on the wall represent one-third of a million to 2.5 million days — up to 7,000 years into the future from A.D. 813, a year scratched into the wall in another place.

Saturno, like other scientists who have studied the Maya civilization, says the Maya appear not to have thought much, at least in their writings, about an end to the world.

“The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this,” Saturno said. “We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It’s an entirely different mindset.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


2012 End of World Countdown Based on Mayan Calendar Begins

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The countdown to the apocalypse is on. One year from Wednesday -- Dec. 21, 2012 -- is the date the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar allegedly marked as the end of an era, when the date would reset to zero and humanity would come to an end.

But will that happen?

There have been many end of times predictions over the years.  Christian radio host Harold Camping faced widespread ridicule when his predictions that the world would end twice this year -- on May 21, and then on Oct. 21 -- failed to materialize.

But in the flurry of doomsday predictions -- there have been similar dire warnings about the world coming to an end from various cultures, including Native Americans, the Chinese, Egyptians and even the Irish -- the supposed Mayan prophecy seems to have held the most sway with believers.

The Mayan civilization, which reached its height from 300 A.D. to 900 A.D., had a talent for astronomy.  Advanced mathematics and primitive astronomy flourished, creating what many have called the most accurate calendar in the world.

The Mayans predicted a final event that included a solar shift, a Venus transit and violent earthquakes.

Their Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. Thirteen was a significant, a sacred number for the Mayans, and they wrote that the 13th Baktun ends on Dec. 21, 2012.

The doomsday theories stem from a stone tablet discovered in the 1960s at the archaeological site of Tortuguero in the Gulf of Mexico state of Tabasco that describes the return of a Mayan god at the end of a 13th period.

The blogosphere exploded with more speculation when Mexico’s archaeology institute acknowledged on Nov. 24 a second reference to Dec. 21, 2012, on a brick found at other ruins.

In southern Mexico, the heart of Mayan territory, a yearlong celebration is planned.  Mexico’s tourism agency expects to draw 52 million visitors by next year only to the regions of Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Campeche. It’s selling the date as a time of renewal.

For those who are thinking about how to spend what could be their last year on earth, here's a message of hope: Many archeologists argue that the 2012 reference on a 1,300-year-old stone tablet only marks the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar.  Recent research also suggests the mythological date of the “end of days” may be off by 50 to 100 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio