Ancient Mayan calculations cast doubt on 2012 doomsday
Scientists find oldest Mayan calendar - and it keeps going past 21 December 2012
SCIENTISTS have been forced to reassess the way we view the Mayan calendar, after archaeologists found an ancient house, covered in hieroglyphs and astrological drawings, buried deep in the Guatemalan jungle.
The findings will bring peace of mind to those living in fear that the world was coming to an end this year. The conclusion of the Mayan long count calendar has long been interpreted as a doomsday countdown ending on 21 December 2012 (film 2012, about the Mayan doomsday, pictured).
Luckily for humanity, calculations found etched on the walls of the ancient dwelling far extend this limited life span.
Researchers in the journal Science say the workings feature the 365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of Venus, and the 780-day cycle of Mars, alongside a wall documenting the phases of the moon.
William Saturno, an archaeologist from Boston University said the writing looked like "someone's attempt to sort out a very long mathematics problem".
Anthony Aveni of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York - an expert on Mayan astronomy - suggests that the Mayans did not envisage an end of the world at all. He said: "The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue.
"Why would they go into those numbers if the world is going to come to an end this year? You could say a number that big at least suggests that time marches on."
The inscriptions represent the earliest known Mayan calendar, dating back to the 9th century AD. Although scientists were aware the ancient civilisation kept records this far back, the oldest examples they possessed were from 600 years later.
The Mayan Codices, written in bark paper books, were dated between 1300 and 1521 but these findings demonstrate astronomical computations were taking place several centuries earlier.
The Times reports that the dwelling was used by royal scribes who treated the walls like a blackboard. These calculations were essential to Mayan astrology and rituals, and were used to advise kings on warfare and to predict crop outcomes.
"What you have here is astronomy driven by religion," Aveni says.