Conspiracy and armaggedon theorists love to look back on ancient texts for ominous portends of our ever-imminent downfall. After the Bible and Nostradamus, the go-to for end of the world prophecies is the Mayan calendar. The calendar is thought to “run out” in December 2012, supposedly indicating that humanity’s time does as well. Hollywood even made it the premise of a big-budget action flick. But it looks like we can all stop worrying and stocking up our bunkers. The oldest-known Mayan calendar has been found in the Guatemalan rainforest and, according to researchers, it’s “going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future.”
The Mayans kept time in groupings of 400 years called baktuns, with a 13 baktun cycle finishing up on December 21, 2012. Despite the fact that Mayan scholars have long held that the completion of a 13 baktun cycle just begins a new one, many people have interpreted that it actually signals the end of the world. This newly discovered calendar strengthens the argument against that fatalistic interpretation because it includes an abnormally long cycle of 17 baktuns and a “ring number”. The “ring number” is a notation “used to record time in a previous cycle, thousands of years into the past.” Together, that’s pretty clear proof that the Mayans didn’t think of a baktun as the – their cycles could sometimes vary in length and have ended-restarted before.
This new calendar is a wall mural buried deep within Mayan ruins at Xultun, amongst beautiful portraits for Mayan kings and scribes. Details and images of the murals will be released in Science next week. Should we make a pool for how long it takes The History Channel to produce a documentary trying to debunk them?