The calendar, consisting of delicately painted symbols and columns of numbers, was one of a number of texts found on the wall of a room in a residential area of the massive complex of ruins called Xultun in northeast Guatemala, the scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science. It is four to five centuries older than previous Mayan calendars, and the earliest found on a wall rather than in books.
Basically the Mayans realized that opening and closing books made out of fragile bark paper was becoming a real pain in the ass, and discovered that all they had to do was write some of their more commonly referenced information on the wall and occasionally plaster it over when they needed a fresh start. Think of it as the first whiteboard.
Another set of numbers painted on a section of wall undermines an idea that has been embraced in popular culture – including the movie “2012’’ – that the Maya predicted the world would end in “13 baktuns’’ or about 5,000 years, which works out to the end of this year. That idea has long been dismissed by scholars, who explain that the Maya calendar is like a vehicle odometer that turns over when it reaches that date, not a doomsday prediction. The new find reinforces that the Maya’s conception of time was not finite, because it contains a calendar that extends 17 baktuns, about 7,000 years.
Admittedly, about four seconds of rational thought can undermine the idea that the Mayan calendar is anything other than what it says on the tin, so to speak. Once one unit of measurement is complete, it rolls over to the next, so time – and life – goes on.
This is basically it. It’s an interesting read, and it’s all I have for today since things have been hectic again. I’m also going to be away next week so I’ll try to post something at least moderately entertaining for you all then. Just remember to visit!