The ancient Maya civilization documented calendar dates beyond 2012.
This shocking news has been revealed inside ancient ruins of the sprawling Maya city of Xultún in Guatemala's Petén region, supporting what archaeologists have known for a long time: The Mayans never predicted doomsday on Dec. 21, 2012.
During a National Geographic Society-funded dig in the rainforest region, archaeologists uncovered a structure adorned with wonderfully preserved paintings and scrawled numbers — apparently the workspace for the town's scribe some 1,200 years ago. The numbers have been identified as dates in the Maya calendars. As the ancient civilization developed extremely accurate ways to track celestial objects, many of these calendars relate to astronomical cycles.
According to lead archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University, the calendars mentioned are the 260-day ceremonial calendar, the 365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of the planet Venus and the 780-day cycle of Mars.
The building, which was spotted by Saturno's student Max Chamberlain in 2010, was likely built before A.D. 890, a year when the last carved monument in Xultún was created, shortly before the downfall of the civilization. Interestingly, a date that corresponds to A.D. 813 (a time when the Maya had begun to collapse) was found scratched into a wall.
Despite what crazed doomsayers keep telling us, this is another piece of evidence that the Maya never pointed to 2012 as being an apocalyptic year.
Although the 13th "baktun" of the Mayan Long Count calendar (a period of time of around 394 years) is set to end this year, there is no indication that the numbers documented by the town's scribe point to bad things happening in 2012. If anything, the end of one cycle rolling into the next heralded a new age. Rather than calendars ending abruptly, Maya calendars were cyclical. Although modern civilization likes to get all hot and bothered about stories of doom, that's not what the Maya had in mind.
In this particular Xultún ruin, murals of kings and complex hieroglyphics adorn the walls of a small room in the building. Also, possibly a reference or wall chart for academics of the time, the Mayan calendars had been painstakingly etched out. Cycles of 17 baktuns had even been scribed to a pillar, along with a "ring number" — a means of documenting past events.
"The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this," said Saturno, whose research will appear in the journal Science this week. "We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It's an entirely different mind-set."
Even the National Institute of Anthropological History in Mexico blames "the West's messianic thinking" as the cause of distorting "the worldview of ancient civilizations like the Mayans."
Also commenting on the cyclical design of the Maya calendars, Anthony Aveni, professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University and co-author of the paper, said: "It's like the odometer of a car, with the Maya calendar rolling over from the 120,000s to 130,000. The car gets a step closer to the junkyard as the numbers turn over; the Maya just start over."
Archaeologist David Stuart of the University of Texas, who worked to decipher the Mayan glyphs, added: "The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future. Numbers we can't even wrap our heads around."
So, the upshot is that this mind-blowing discovery exposes the Maya culture for what it really was: a complex, fascinating and forward-thinking ancient people, not the prophets of doom they've been portrayed by a few profit-seeking doomsayers.
Sadly, many people continue to be duped by stories of doom despite all the scientific and historic facts proving the contrary. So all we can do is keep exposing these myths for what they really are. Remember, doomsayers, we're watching you.
Image credit: iStockPhoto