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Archaeologists Find Oldest Known Mayan Calendar 185

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 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.

  • Re:Pity (Score:4, Insightful)

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

    Let me cowardly start this one


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

    Smart people still lurk here.

  • 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?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @10:59PM (#39962653)
    Right, like when the allies drove into Berlin and ... wait, Like when Hussein was finally overthrown and they tore down..umm, I mean when Pol Pot moved into town and everyone lived happily ever...Nah.
    Conquerors generally don't give a damn about your new world order views, they tend to implement their own.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:43PM (#39962903)

    No, I mean the ancient statues in Egypt. Before you call people "pathetic trolls" maybe you should learn basic history. You do realize Egypt was not originally an Arab country? They are colonizers just like the Spanish Catholics in Mesoamerica. When the muslims conquered Egypt they smashed the faces off any "idols" they could find in an iconoclastic orgy. Monotheistic fanatics are authoritarian and violent no matter which brand or logo they operate under. Deal with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:45PM (#39962911)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @11:46PM (#39962913)

    In fairness to the Taliban, if a bunch of smug foreigners from UNESCO showed up in my country and offered me a massive cash payment to take care of the statues at a time when my people were starving from famine (and, truth be told, a really poorly run government), I'd be tempted to do it too. Taking the money would be placing a statue, albeit significant, over the value of living humans.

    All major poltical movements have always taken part in some iconoclasm. Hell, read any piece of Utopian literature from Plato to Ann Rand and they are full of iconoclasm. You have to destroy before you build something new. The most significant moments in European art history have been iconoclastic too -- some Reformation movements destroyed religious paintings and sculptures. In order to paint their enemies as ignorant savages, the Catholics and Lutherans had to shift art away from the sacred towards the autonomous. The great representational art (i.e. not religious art) that followed tended to be in Protestant areas, especially the Low Countries. The French Revolution did the same thing for art and politics. The revolutionaries destroyed the artifacts of the monarchy and the class system. In order to portray them as Vandals (when the term started to be used to describe those that wantonly destory things), art had to divorce itself from politics too.

    What should folks in Eastern Europe do? Should they leave the statues of Lenin and Stalin litered throughout their countryside as "cultural heritage"? Or should they smash the symbols of the assholes who they really hated? The Allies took down lots of Hitler's monuments and public works projects. Hitler himself took down much of the iconography of the Weimar Republic. (The Russians took down lots of the Prussian monuments in East Germany too) Is this stuff "art" that should be left untouched for history and to respect "the self-expression of the artists" or is it something more than just art with real significance in how one views the world as it is and how it should be?

    Without artistic iconoclasm in the West, we'd still be stuck painting religious allegories for rich ass aristocrats. The whole idea of "art" as autonomous from forces in the world emerged out of the responses to iconoclasm. To knock another society or time period for destroying pre-existing artifacts is to fail to open ones mind the the concept that art was not autonomous in the past. Indeed, it really isn't autonomous in the present either, as much as we try to pretend that it is.

    Don't buy into the propaganda of artists. We've made the same argument time and time again over the last 1000 years. Folks come along and say our art is bad for one reason or another (usually religion or politics). They destroy it. We abstract the art from their plane of attack and portray them as ignorant savages. I wonder who the ignorant savages really are. Those who believe in beautiful objects devoid of any meaning other than themselves or those that believe art has real power and significance in our world?

    For the members of the Taliban who destroyed the statues, those statues were no longer a nice piece of rock. Nor indeed were they "cultural heritage" to Buddhist nations either. They had become objects that were being given offerings at the expense of doing something that actually mattered. In their shoes, I might have done the same thing too. Savage or not.

    (From an anonymous coward musician/composer)

  • by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @04:47AM (#39964253) Homepage

    It is quite OK to destroy statues of Stalin and Lenin in the eastern parts of Europe as there are still people around who suffered from those bastard's reign. However, it would not be OK to destroy them if they where 2000 years old. Whatever you think, it is not OK to destroy 2000 year old statues of Julius Caesar in France, even though the guy was responsible for killing off something like a quarter of the local Gauls.

    It may also be understandable if the statues where old, but symbolizing an oppressor that just left. If the Buddhists would have ruled and oppressed the Afghans until say 20 years ago, it would be understandable that the statues where destroyed during the processes of liberation (not nice, but understandable). As it stands however, Afghanistan has been islamic for a very very long time. Destroying the statues this long after, is thus just simply put a crime against our common cultural heritage.

    It is not so much about priorities, being poor is no excuse for actively ruining such a site, it would be an excuse for letting it slowly crumble due to the lack of maintenance however.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday May 11, 2012 @09:42AM (#39966045)

    Muslims weren't always extremists, that happened after Brittian, France and US decided to chop up the Ottoman empire "so it didn't pose a threat". That backfired didn't it?

    You're right. When a Taliban enforcer drags a school teacher out into the town square that used to be a soccer field before they banned playing soccer, and shoots her in the head because she has offended Allah by encouraging girls to think, that is definitely the fault of western civilization. No question.

    What the hell is wrong with you?

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl