William Saturno, a Boston University archeologist, excavates a mural in a house in Xultun, massive Mayan ruins in Guatemala. The mural depicts a figure who may have been the town scribe. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society.  Credit: Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic.
William Saturno, a Boston University archeologist, excavates a mural in a house in Xultun, massive Mayan ruins in Guatemala. The mural depicts a figure who may have been the town scribe. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Credit: Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic.

2012

End of the World Averted: New Archeological Find Proves Mayan Calendar Doesn’t End

10 May , 2012 by

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So much for the world ending on December 21, 2012. We’ve been saying it for years, but a new find by archaeologists confirms the Mayan calendar indeed does not end this year but keeps going, just like turning a page to a new calendar.

“It’s very clear that the 2012 date, while important as Baktun 13, was turning the page,” David Stuart, quoted by Alan Boyle on MSNBC’s Cosmic Log. “Baktun 14 was going to be coming, and Baktun 15 and Baktun 16. … The Maya calendar is going to keep going, and keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future.”

A team of archaeologists found a small room in Mayan ruins where royal scribes wrote on the walls — apparently like a blackboard — to keep track of astronomical records and details of the complex Mayan calendar. The writings date to about 1,200 years ago.

These are the oldest known astronomical tables from the Maya. They were found at the Xultun archaeological site in Guatemala’s Peten region. Scientists already knew the Mayans must have been keeping such records during that time period, but until now the oldest known examples dated from about 600 years later.

The room, about 2 meters (6-feet) square, contains walls decorated with images of a king and some other notable figures, as well as astronomical numbers and writings, the scientists said. The room had a stone roof rather than a thatched one, which may indicate the importance of the room.

Why did they write on walls, as opposed to other Mayan texts that have been found on bark paper?

The time period of the early 9th century was not a stable time for the Mayans, as there was political turmoil between the various city-states of the time, and the researchers said that perhaps the Xultun scribes wished to make a more permanent record of their data related to the calendar.

By some supposed “researchers,” Dec. 21, 2012 has been correlated to the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which was based on a cycle of 13 intervals known as baktuns, each lasting 144,000 days.

But the newly found writing on walls of the ancient room shows wide ranges of accumulated time, including a 17-baktun period. “There was a lot more to the Maya calendar than just 13 baktuns,” said Stuart, talking with reporters. Seventeen baktuns would stand for about 6,700 years, which is much longer than the 13-baktun cycle of 5,125 years. However, Stuart cautioned that the time notation shouldn’t be read as specifying a date that’s farther in the future than Dec. 21.

“It may just be that this is a mathematical number that’s kind of interesting,” he said. “We’re not sure what the base of the calendar is.”

William Saturno, an archaeologist at Boston University who led the team of archaeologists said many different scientists have been trying to get the word out that the end of the Maya culture’s 13-baktun Long Count calendar doesn’t signify the end of the world, but merely a turnover to the next cycle in a potentially infinite series — like going from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 on a modern calendar.

“If someone is a hard-core believer that the world is going to end in 2012, no painting is going to convince them otherwise,” he said. “The only thing that can convince them otherwise is waiting until Dec. 22, 2012 — which fortunately for all of us isn’t that far away.”

Read the team’s abstract.

Read more at Cosmic Log, ABC News, Science, National Geographic.

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By  -        
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.



63 Responses

  1. cbcnasa says:

    This would be a great topic on Dec. 21, 2012 on 365 Days of Astronomy

    • zkank says:

      Really?
      While I’m impressed with the aspect of an ancient calendar, I think discussion of its relevance to “the end of the world” is unworthy of this *science* site.
      Such drivel shouldn’t even be acknowledged here.

      Next there will be a posted article relating to horoscopes.

      • Jeff Boerst says:

        The article is mainly about new ASTRONOMICAL data found from earlier Mayan history. And this web-site IS devoted to … Astronomy, no? They just used it to further debunk and poke fun at pseudo-science which as I understand it, is a side goal of folks like these who’s MAIN goal is to popularize science. If you still want to label it “Drivel”, … skip it.

    • fitzgeraldalberto says:

      like Edith res ponded I didn’t even kn ow that a m other able to earn $8342 in 1 month on the com puter. hav e you seen this webpage===>>??http://freelancer111.blogspot.com

  2. Zoutsteen from Holland says:

    “just hang up a new calendar”.

    Well, now we got scientific proof that it worked in the past ;-D

  3. Ozgur Zeren says:

    Mayan calendar is based on solar and cosmic cycles. Naturally after a certain date, those cycles would not ‘just’ stop. The reason why the main calender mayans were using ends in 2012, was not that the world thought to be going to end at that date, but, they thought people would not need calendars after that date. For some reason, they thought it would be a different world. Such was believed in their culture.

  4. Ozgur Zeren says:

    Mayan calendar is based on solar and cosmic cycles. Naturally after a certain date, those cycles would not ‘just’ stop. The reason why the main calender mayans were using ends in 2012, was not that the world thought to be going to end at that date, but, they thought people would not need calendars after that date. For some reason, they thought it would be a different world. Such was believed in their culture.

  5. Mayas never said that world will ends up on Dec 21 2012, it is a misinterpreted data. The fact is that a stage or a cycle ends and another begins, no destruction will happen just a jump to another frequency and conciousness level. I

    • squidgeny says:

      Yes. Except that won’t happen either

    • magnus.nyborg says:

      I really hope some people will reach another consciousness level, because then they might actually stop making shit up.

  6. magnus.nyborg says:

    So the world will not end on Dec 21 2012? Who would have thunk…

  7. SJStar says:

    …still planning to have a party!!

  8. marlon david says:

    All of a sudden, universe today believes in mayan writings…hahaha

  9. Laserburn says:

    Excellent work!

  10. Mark says:

    It is just the end of a cycle. The calender is very cyclic, and each cycle pertains to a different rule over Earth and level of collective consciousness. What people seem to underestimate are the skills of the Mayans. They never went through precision on a level we know little of, and built all these giant monoliths and pyramids, vaults, and bury one of their Chief leaders (unsure of time), and buried him with a pure Jade mask and a coffin with the Chief in a spacecraft on the front of it. Google Pakal and check it out.

    There’s no denying that people are waking up more and more. Once you’ve awoken, you see hour the decades before you were fragile and more innocent here in in the Western world. Big changes are coming, but please save us future drama and lay off the fire and brimstone idea.

    • Mark says:

      Double post.

    • squidgeny says:

      I’ll wager that the impending “different rule over Earth and level of collective consciousness, a shift in balance” has no measurable or observable effects whatsoever, yet the cranks will keep saying it happened.

      • dwdeclare says:

        how much you wanna wager…20 quatloos?

      • jjbreen says:

        I agree – talk about “Subjective”. I would love to see how they measure this on 12-22-2012. This so called “awakening” or “enlightenment” …. Oh well.

    • jjbreen says:

      Yup, I wake up every day for the past 57 years… and I’ll wake up again tomorrow, hopefully. But the sad thing is – Greed, Lust, Selfishness, Pride, Egos still continue. So the Earth might be changing … but it’s a very very slow pace.

    • Torbjörn Larsson says:

      What is your testable difference between “waking” and “not waking”?

    • Zoutsteen from Holland says:

      [quote] They even buried one of their Chief leaders (unsure of the time), and buried him with a pure Jade mask and a sarcophagus lid with the Chief himself in a spacecraft on the lid, with planets we know today making a border around it [/quote]

      I see a (jaguar clad) throne with a cockatoo like bird perched on the top protrusion?
      I did love Erich von Däniken in my young days, but not without critique.

      Cheers though, I agree we should move onward in our consciousness. !

    • When are we humans ever going to grow up and realize that we are not now, nor have humans ever been capable of predicting when the earth will cease to exist. As it relates to Universal Time, our species has only been around a very few minutes. In those few moments, we have learned quite a bit but we have a whole lot more to learnsuch as, how to live together on earth at peace.
      Please See: http://www.worldpeacecode.com

    • Guy Jorion says:

      pakal is however you want to interpret it! as they interpreted their way dosnt neccesarily mean they were right !

  11. Lonecoolman says:

    Mayan cycle is based on the LUNAR cycle, and it is a point of hitting bottom of the Iron age we are living in today. A non spiritual world. Check out the Pyramid code on you tube. Not only the Mayans, but Egyptians, Hopi Indians, and other ancient civilizations have said that there would be a grand event coming in this time period. Not the end of the world, but the end of the world as WE know it today.

    • Torbjörn Larsson says:

      You know that prediction is terrible beyond 5 days due to weather, right? And you need supercomputers to get that far with nature.

      More to the point, what is your evidence?

      • Lonecoolman says:

        What prediction? and what does my post have to do with the weather? And supercomputers? You seem confused. Good luck with that. Take care.

    • magnus.nyborg says:

      Maybe soon more people around the world will realise that living in fantasies and make beliefs is an unproductive way of living. Especially when the fantasies are build upon other peoples fantasies, who built them on other peoples fantasies, who made up the fantasies because they didnt understand the scary world around them.

      Now that would be the end of the world as we know it today, and I would welcome it.

      • Junovidor says:

        Good on you mate. I couldn’t have said it any better. So much non-stopping BS because an ancient calendar. What’s a calendar after all? Nothing but an abstract tool invented to keep track of events in the past and in the present. The ones related to the future were taken care of by the self-proclamed
        “science” of astrology by means of an horoscope. We wouldn’t even need any calendars whatsoever if the fourth dimemsion spacetime were understood a few millennia ago rather than the separated concepts of space and time that still apply in most of our daily routines.
        And that fact would have saved us all a lot of today’s idiotic crap that we have to put up with when surfing the net.

      • Lonecoolman says:

        I have seen a documentary on ancient Egypt which was fascinating and it discussed how the ancients were in tune with and knew about the left/right side of the brain, how the glands in our body’s ruled our bodily functions and so much more. We as a race, humans, had knowledge that has been lost through the ages. And now with the discovery of the pyramids in Bosnia, the book on our race’s lost knowledge is being greatly added too. There is something a foot, you all must agree? For if you don’t admit what your own eyes tell you you see, you are asleep.

        • magnus.nyborg says:

          There are plenty of amasing things of ancient yet to discover.

          But the egyptians also believed that the Sun was carried in a carriot across the sky each day, if you believe that you are not only asleep, you are nuts.

          At the time, their misunderstanding was clearly made by a lack of proper understanding of the universe, where the jump to fantasies was the only generally accepted explanation. This problem is still present today, where fantasy takes presedence over reality simply because some people simply dont understand better. Makebelieve simply doesnt work as a platform for building complex structures.

  12. Bryon Astell says:

    Mayans didn’t account for leap year did they. Isn’t it like 2017 or 2018 by their calendar…..

  13. Bryon Astell says:

    Mayans didn’t account for leap year did they. Isn’t it like 2017 or 2018 by their calendar…..

  14. John Nichols says:

    so, the greeks, indians, chinese, hopi, peruvians, mayans and europeans were all wrong…just pranksters. stonehenge was built as a joke. the pyramids were built as a joke. golden rectangle cities (cities of gold) were built as a joke. the dead sea scrolls were written in jest, as a joke. yeah, right scientists…you bet.

    • jjbreen says:

      Pretty much! 😉

    • Torbjörn Larsson says:

      You are making shit up. It is well understood and plenty published that these monuments were built as cities (mayan cities, say) or ritual monuments (graves around pyramids, stonehenge et cetera).

      When you get to religious texts, you loose me. They are neither jokes nor factual, they are serious attempts to con people.

    • Jeff Boerst says:

      “so, the greeks, indians, chinese, hopi, peruvians, mayans and europeans were all wrong…just pranksters. stonehenge was built as a joke. the pyramids were built as a joke. golden rectangle cities (cities of gold) were built as a joke. the dead sea scrolls were written in jest, as a joke. yeah, right scientists…you bet.” Noooo-o-o–o—o… Your interpre-TA-tion of what their structures were built for is WRONG. Learn. To. Think.

  15. John Nichols says:

    so, the greeks, indians, chinese, hopi, peruvians, mayans and europeans were all wrong…just pranksters. stonehenge was built as a joke. the pyramids were built as a joke. golden rectangle cities (cities of gold) were built as a joke. the dead sea scrolls were written in jest, as a joke. yeah, right scientists…you bet.

  16. dwdeclare says:

    well that’s nfg! i was really counting on the world ending so i wouldn’t have to go to work anymore.

    we’ll never get off this island…never!

  17. jjbreen says:

    I do not blame UT, totally. But I do blame them some.

    -> I blame Obama for cutting NASA’s budget and such. Because now there is nothing to talk about and UT has to go to empty well and pull up JUNK like this.

    Before those who say, ‘Obama had nothing to do with it!”

    Yes he did. He leads by EXAMPLE. JFK, gave out the challenge of putting man on the moon and we made it happen.

    What NASA goals did Obama have? Make it more Muslim Friendly. (???) Why don’t he make it more Christian Friendly? Mormon Friendly? Catholic Friendly? Buddhist friendly? (See???)

    I never under stood that???

    But seriously UT – it would be better to print nothing, then to lower your standards and print drivel like this. Set a high standard and hold to it.

    • squidgeny says:

      What NASA goals did Obama have? Make it more Muslim Friendly.

      lol

      Is that seriously A Thing You Believe or am I missing some sort of satire here

      • jjbreen says:

        Hint – I’ll let you ponder it a little longer. 😉 But don’t ponder too long, it’s not “rocket science” ….

    • William Sparrow says:

      Obama may lead by example, but it is nearly impossible for him to direct any legislation that doesn’t square with the anti science, anti abortion dogma of the Christian right obstructionists in Congress.

      • jjbreen says:

        WS … Sorry, but I don’t know any “Christian Right Obstructionists In Congress that are anti-science … let alone anti-space exploration. Please feel free to sight a group that is “anti-Space Exploration. In fact I know of some LEFT groups that are totally against Space Exploration. They call it a total waste of money.

        • GregtheThird says:

          From my experience the left in the U.S. is generally science friendly and likes to spend more government funds on science projects. Before she was voted out, my congresswoman was about as far left as you can imagine and voted consistently for maximizing the NASA budget and for science research initiatives (hopefully my letters to her voicing support for such programs helped.) Individuals on the right who are pro-religion tend to be anti-science for funding whereas those on the right who are pro-military tend to favor science since they realize this is only way for our military to stay ahead of rivals such as Russia and China.
          So members of Congress can be pro or anti science on both sides of the aisle. The left is usually a more reliable source of support for science initiatives due the right’s history of anti-intellecutalism most notoriously represented by Eisenhower and their catering to the fundamentalist Christian groups, typically those who favor creationism and ID.

        • GregtheThird says:

          From my experience the left in the U.S. is generally science friendly and likes to spend more government funds on science projects. Before she was voted out, my congresswoman was about as far left as you can imagine and voted consistently for maximizing the NASA budget and for science research initiatives (hopefully my letters to her voicing support for such programs helped.) Individuals on the right who are pro-religion tend to be anti-science for funding whereas those on the right who are pro-military tend to favor science since they realize this is only way for our military to stay ahead of rivals such as Russia and China.
          So members of Congress can be pro or anti science on both sides of the aisle. The left is usually a more reliable source of support for science initiatives due the right’s history of anti-intellecutalism most notoriously represented by Eisenhower and their catering to the fundamentalist Christian groups, typically those who favor creationism and ID.

          • jjbreen says:

            I agree Greg … I know “Left” and “Right” that support NASA and I know Christian’s and Non-Christians that do .. and I know “left” & “Right” – Christian and Non that do NOT support. It’s not just one side or the other… There are “bad apples” in all groups. I do not judge any one group based on a few ‘bad apples’… But Obama did indeed cut the budget and had the final say – He could have easily stepped up and spoke out against NASA Budget Cuts – but did NOT.

          • GregtheThird says:

            It is unusual and unfortunate that a President on the left took an axe to the funding of a science program. My own take on this is that he wanted to take a stand opposing as many administrative policies of Bush II as possible. I had thought it unsually good fortune that a neo-con like Bush was pro-science via NASA, but as I discussed above he is ardently pro-military.

  18. intelligencewoego says:

    i guess i am going to need life insurance.

  19. Hal Rogers says:

    we’re saved.

  20. Torbjörn Larsson says:

    I’m not sure I understand Saturno. It is really unlucky that this discovery was made last year and will prevent the hardcore crackpots to crack some more instead of ducking behind reinterpretations. That said, the new Long Count calendar turn is far in the future, so it doesn’t matter overly much.

    Also worth mentioning is that the late discovered Mayan city of Xultun was ransacked in the ’70s by grave robbers. It is purely coincidental that a belated and lackluster archaeological dig turns up something worthwhile.

    The time period of the early 9th century was not a stable time for the Mayans, as there was political turmoil between the various city-states of the time, and the researchers said that perhaps the Xultun scribes wished to make a more permanent record of their data related to the calendar.

    I like that hypothesis better than the one about the time being climatically disastrous for the city states, positing a drought that I don’t know if it is properly tested. Maybe climate was the driver for turmoil, but turmoil is a more robust proximal hypothesis.

    • GregtheThird says:

      Threre is little doubt that a horrific military campaign fostered by extreme political upheaval was the final common pathway to the fall of Mayan civilization. But this civilization had survived numerous conflicts and protracted wars over the centuries, so one has to ask, what was different this time, such that they were not able to pick up the pieces and carry on? That is where an external pressure such as a climate catastrophe comes in. The latest hypothesis that I read and liked was unsustainable farming practices combined with a drought. A lack of resources would force populations to move, fight or die. As the region is a bit narrow as far as land mass is concerned, moving would not seem practical as there just isn’t much open space, nor horses, such as in Eurasia. The onset of the catastrophe would have had to be slow, to allow sufficent resources for warfare to remain. These cultures were accustomed to warfare, so finding a pretext for war would have been easy. The direness of the situation would have escalated things easily enough. The reason why the pieces were not picked up afterwards and the survivors carried on would be that the climate disaster would not have allowed for it. As their beliefs were often based in nature, the survivors would have believed that the gods had abandoned them, further discouraging any attempt at starting over.

  21. Whoever spread the news that mayan calendar gonna bring it to an end is ultimate retard.

  22. Jeff Boerst says:

    Further per your, ” yeah, right scientists…you bet.”… Consider how much of the tangible (ie: obviously ‘real’) world is based on science’s accuracy (IE: ALL OF TECHNOLOGY) vs. how much mythology of all kinds brings to the table… Is it THAT cponfusing to you?

  23. William Sparrow says:

    Why do these articles invariably bring out the conspirators and science deniers? It’s interesting that we see none of these people posting on more serious articles. Lack of knowledge perhaps?

  24. dwdeclare says:

    it seems to me this mayan colander theory has a lot of holes in it.

  25. GregtheThird says:

    LOL. Too funny. At least one scholar of the era had calculated another 4 baktuns into the future. Who knows how many more looked even further ahead. It goes to show how much of an illogical joke based on complete ignorance of even the basic facts about the time and culture this whole line of thinking is. There was no consensus and probably not even a concept about the end of the world at the time, much less any postulation as to how. It looks like they did not spot a gas giant in the heavens on some improbale elliptical orbit heading back our way now. One would hope human civilization has evolved beyond this kind of suceptibility to cult thinking manipulated by some kook/joker into mass hysteria. Then again we elect the most important leaders in he world based on the popularity of their personality rather then upon their political platforms or a proven history of administrative success. This is why learning about science and the scientific method is mandatory in schools. One would hope that those lessons trnaslate into more critical thinking and reasoningin the rest of the students lives, but apparently we have more work to do in education as well.

  26. ITSRUF says:

    It seems that at the turn of each baktun, the dominant culture in Latin America suffers the worst. Aztec, Mayan, post-classical, pre-Columbian, ect… It seems these societies suffer every 400 years. Maybe only Mexico should be worried.

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