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Archaeologists Find Oldest Known Mayan Calendar 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the when-does-it-end? dept.
sciencehabit writes "A team of American researchers has discovered a small trove of ancient Mayan texts in a surprising place. In a paper published online today in Science, researchers report finding Mayan astronomical tables and other texts painted and incised on the walls of a 1200-year-old residential building at the site of Xultún in Guatemala. The newly discovered astronomical tables are at least 500 years older than those preserved in the Maya codices, giving researchers a new glimpse of science at the height of the Maya civilization. 'I think we are all astonished by this find,' says Stephen Houston, an archaeologist at Brown University who was not part of the team."
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Archaeologists Find Oldest Known Mayan Calendar

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    They are just trying to make it sound like we will be here longer. We already know that the world goes "boom" on 12/21/12!
  • And cue an entire slashdot discussion about base(60)less conspiracy theories. Please, any chance of talking about the archaeology here without descending into numerology? No? Oh well...
    • Re:Pity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:17PM (#39962379)

      Let me cowardly start this one

      http://www.khanacademy.org/math/vi-hart/v/doodling-in-math--spirals--fibonacci--and-being-a-plant--1-of-3
      http://www.khanacademy.org/math/vi-hart/v/doodling-in-math-class--spirals--fibonacci--and-being-a-plant--2-of-3
      http://www.khanacademy.org/math/vi-hart/v/doodling-in-math--spirals--fibonacci--and-being-a-plant--part-3-of-3

      What if these numbers natural numbers are simply how nature works and anything else would be a conspiracy!

      Smart people still lurk here.

      • Thank you, that's snapped me out of it somewhat. Platonism != Numerology, I'm off to re-read some Anathem.
      • by Bucc5062 (856482)

        That renewed my faith in teaching....Wonderful. Also proves the point that you're never to old to learn for I had not known that about plants. Thank you.

      • by azalin (67640)
        Very nice. Thank you for the links.
    • Maybe the newer versions of the calendar are better and more accurate? Older isn't always better, you know.

      Back to square one we go :)
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      And cue an entire slashdot discussion about base(60)less conspiracy theories.
      Thinking that the Mayans predicted the end of the world on 12/21/2012 is like thinking that Cobol programmers predicted the end of the world on 12/31/1999.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:10PM (#39962327)

    if those franciscan pricks hadn't torched all of the maya records we wouldn't have to try and decipher this shit off some half-buried wall. all of it was well preserved on codices but the church figured it would be easier to convert them all if they incinerated their cultural history.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:26PM (#39962459)

      the church figured it would be easier to convert them all if they incinerated their cultural history.

      What? Was the church wrong? Was it harder to convert them without their cultural history?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wrong about... it being easier to convert a people after destroying their culture? Well.. probably not.

        But... wrong about destroying a people's culture in order to convert them to a different opinion? Yeah. Fucking wrong.

    • by alen (225700) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:30PM (#39962483)

      the mayans killed themselves long before the europeans came over. they weren't one people, but a group of city states always fighting each other and destroying neighboring cities

      • by dmbasso (1052166) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:51PM (#39962617)

        He was talking about this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_codices [wikipedia.org]
        “[...] recorded their history for more than eight hundred years back, and that were interpreted for me by very ancient Indians.” (Zorita 1963, 271-2). Fr. Bartolomé de las Casas lamented that when found, such books were destroyed: "These books were seen by our clergy, and even I saw part of those that were burned by the monks, apparently because they thought [they] might harm the Indians in matters concerning religion, since at that time they were at the beginning of their conversion."
        And this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexican_Inquisition [wikipedia.org]
        "[...] The failure of this movement prompted more aggressive evangelization, with the Franciscans finding out that despite their efforts much of traditional beliefs and practice survived. They, under the leadership of Fray Diego de Landa, decided to make an example of those they considered back-sliders without regard to proper legal formalities. Large numbers of people were subjected to torture and as many of the Maya sacred books as could be found were burned."
        The emphasis on the "good" actions of the church is mine.

      • Rather like those cultureless losers who never invented anything, the greeks...
      • by geekoid (135745)

        The Mayans are still around. Sheesh.

      • Well if you read TFA and looked at the pictures taken of the calendar, you'd see that after the last date there is a pictograph of a pulpy, tentacled head surmounting a grotesque scaly body with rudimentary wings.

        So really it's no surprise they constantly fought each other and destroyed neighboring cities.

      • by medv4380 (1604309)
        Your statement is partially false. The Mayans did not kill them selves off. In fact there are still Mayans alive today. Their Civilization collapsed before the Europeans came over, and the Europeans did destroy most of their religious text. They just didn't destroy the Civilization that was no longer there. You're logic is similar to Rome destroyed Israel so their were no Jews around to die in WWII, or Jewish books to burn. I hope you see the flaw in that logic.
    • Archeaologists Find Oldest Known Mayan Calendar

      ... we wouldn't have to try and decipher this shit off some half-buried wall. all of it was well preserved on codices but the church figured it would be easier to convert them all if they incinerated their cultural history.

      I think its common for people to keep old calendars around... I worked at a woodshop two years back, and the Hooter's calendar they had was from the late '90's. If the calendar is a good one, then it doesn't matter how old it is. Even if the dates are wrong, the pictures may still be quite compelling. [cpcache.com]

    • by gtall (79522)

      Those Franciscan pricks as you call them were actually doing the aliens' work for them. Watch shows with Giorgio Tsoukalos, he knows everything about those sneaky aliens and how they've stacked to deck to make us all disappear on 12/21/12. The Hair Ball knows all!

  • No Doomsday (Score:5, Informative)

    by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:11PM (#39962337) Homepage Journal

    More importantly, the records they found at the site indicate that the Mayans viewed the calendar as CYCLICAL and just like our Bad Girls of Linux Wall Calendar, the world doesn't end when the last day of the Calendar is reached.

    Notably absent was the Thirteenth Crystal Skull and ancient UFO instruction manual.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:35PM (#39962521)

      More importantly, the records they found at the site indicate that the Mayans viewed the calendar as CYCLICAL and just like our Bad Girls of Linux Wall Calendar, the world doesn't end when the last day of the Calendar is reached.

      But the cycle is Region 4 only, so it doesn't help us in the US. (Unless you are a dirty Pirate)

    • Re:No Doomsday (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2012 @01:58AM (#39963571)

      More importantly, the records they found at the site indicate that the Mayans viewed the calendar as CYCLICAL and just like our Bad Girls of Linux Wall Calendar, the world doesn't end when the last day of the Calendar is reached.

      Notably absent was the Thirteenth Crystal Skull and ancient UFO instruction manual.

      I was so terribly disappointed when I googled for the Bad Girls of Linux calendar and didn't find anything. Sadist.

      • by kestryn (222463)

        More importantly, the records they found at the site indicate that the Mayans viewed the calendar as CYCLICAL and just like our Bad Girls of Linux Wall Calendar, the world doesn't end when the last day of the Calendar is reached.

        Notably absent was the Thirteenth Crystal Skull and ancient UFO instruction manual.

        I was so terribly disappointed when I googled for the Bad Girls of Linux calendar and didn't find anything. Sadist.

        I hate it when I forget to log in. Also, I narcissistically want credit for my (incredibly) clever comment, which I will never be able to truly have. Now my post becomes a zen exercise to focus on "not grasping". Also, if a post is never read by a human, does it make a point?

      • by azalin (67640)

        More importantly, the records they found at the site indicate that the Mayans viewed the calendar as CYCLICAL and just like our Bad Girls of Linux Wall Calendar, the world doesn't end when the last day of the Calendar is reached.

        Notably absent was the Thirteenth Crystal Skull and ancient UFO instruction manual.

        I was so terribly disappointed when I googled for the Bad Girls of Linux calendar and didn't find anything. Sadist.

        Well there is your business idea.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      Are you suggesting the world didn't end in Y2K?

    • > and ancient UFO instruction manual.

      That's because an instruction manual isn't needed, who would read it anyway?!

    • More importantly, the records they found at the site indicate that the Mayans viewed the calendar as CYCLICAL

      Which was something we already knew, and have known for decades.

      and just like our Bad Girls of Linux Wall Calendar, the world doesn't end when the last day of the Calendar is reached.

      Well, yes and no. They didn't believe that the world would positively end at the end of a given cycle. They *did* believe that when the world ended (and they were as certain that it would eventually end as Chri

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Holy shit! Does this mean we actually all died almost 500 years ago??? Damn, life is like a really bad Voyager episode.

  • by Bodhammer (559311) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:14PM (#39962351)
    Buy Christmas presents this year?
    Plan my New Year's Eve party?
    Pay my taxes?
    Vote?

    This sucks...
    • by Algae_94 (2017070)
      Aside from voting, you can do all of those after December 21st. I know lots of people that do that already.
  • by rev0lt (1950662) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:18PM (#39962385)

    'I think we are all astonished by this find,' says Stephen Houston, an archaeologist at Brown University who was not part of the team."

    What an insightful comment by someone related with this find. Oh wait...

  • ....is an ancient Mayan time traveler.
  • So .... (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Friday May 11, 2012 @12:45AM (#39963193)

    ... what did Miss June look like back in those days?

  • we only have so few months before the end of the earth to study the new finds.

  • Maybe someone who knows this stuff can chime in. I've heard it said that since the Mayan calendar had no leap year it loses a day every 4 years. So if you add up all the missing leap years the end of the world would have came around the middle of 2011.

    Others claim this is incorrect. Which is it?

    • I went to visit the State Library and have look at the Dresden Codex last month. The curator was around and gave us a little talk about the thing. There are in fact two calendars - one is tuned to the solar year, the other is a 260-day ritual calendar. The solar calendar was off a bit (and would have needed leap years), but that doesn't affect the translation of dates. The only effect it had was that the seasons were not fixed to given dates - they moved around. The Mayans were obviously fine with that.
  • by MrMickS (568778) on Friday May 11, 2012 @06:06AM (#39964583) Homepage Journal

    According to my iPhone there is no calendar beyond Wednesday 2nd April 2149. It won't even let you book an all day event, so the end must come sometime during that day.

  • 139 comments and nobody has bothered to ask who their decorator was??

  • No one with a basic understanding of Mayan mythology would say that the Maya were predicting "the end of the world" in 2012, unless by "end of the world" (actually, "end of time") you mean the end of the world as we have thus far known it. The Maya were tuned in to the baktun cycles reflecting major evolutionary shifts on the planet. And it's not a major singular event, the end date marks a mid point within a slightly larger time cycle that denotes a gradual shift. It is an accelerated shift, but not a sudd

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