Washington - The earliest known Mayan calendar has been found in an
ancient house in Guatemala and it offers no hint that the world's end is
imminent, researchers said on Thursday.
Rather, the painted room
in the residential complex at Xultun was probably between sky events and
sacred rituals," said the study in the journal Science.
hieroglyphs date back to the ninth century, making them hundreds of
years older than the calendars in the Maya Codices, which were recorded
in bark-paper books from 1300 to 1521.
Some appear to be the
365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of the planet Venus and the
780-day cycle of Mars, said archaeologist William Saturno of Boston
University, who led the exploration and excavation.
According to Saturno, the writing looks like someone's attempt to sort out a very long math problem, as if on a blackboard.
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,"
"The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7 000 years from now, things would be exactly like this," he added.
keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that
nothing would change. It's an entirely different mindset."
there is no sign that the much-hyped myth that the Mayan calendar would
end in 2012, and with it the world, has any bearing in reality.
that ended in 2012 was one of its calendar cycles, said co-author
Anthony Aveni, professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate
"It's like the odometer of a car, with the Maya calendar rolling over from the 120 000s to 130 000," said Aveni.
"The car gets a step closer to the junk yard as the numbers turn over; the Maya just start over," he added.
most exciting point is that we now see that the Maya were making such
computations hundreds of years - and in places other than books - before
they recorded them in the Codices."
Even though the 31km² site of
Xultun, deep in a rainforest where tens of thousands of people once
lived, was first discovered about 100 years ago, the house structure
where the calendar is drawn on the walls was spotted in 2010.
say careful excavations have revealed that the paintings inside -
including some of human figures wearing feather head-dresses - show the
first examples of Mayan art on a house interior.
"It's weird that
the Xultun finds exist at all," Saturno said. "Such writings and artwork
on walls don't preserve well in the Maya lowlands, especially in a
house buried only a metre below the surface."