2012 not end of world for Mayans after all

May 10, 2012 at 6:32 PM
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BOSTON, May 10 (UPI) -- Mayan wall writings in Guatemala include calendars suggesting the culture was not convinced the world will end in 2012, as many have believed, researchers say.

Some previously discovered Mayan calendars did not go beyond 2012 -- but the newly discovered writings and calendars do, scientists said.

"So much for the supposed end of the world," said archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University, lead author of a study published in the journal Science,.

Discovered in the ruins of Xultun, the astronomical calendar was unearthed in a filled-in scribe's room, USA Today reported.

The ancient Mayan civilization of pyramid temples had collapsed there by about A.D. 900, leaving very few records of their astronomy -- until now, Saturno said.

"The numbers we found indicate an obsession with time and cycles of time, some of them very large," Saturno said. "Maya scribes most likely transcribed the numbers on the wall in this room into [books] just like the ones later seen by conquistadors."

Some of the writings include dates corresponding to a time after the year 3500, he said.

Once considered peaceful stargazers, ancient Mayan society has come to be identified through more recent research as engaged in politics, war and trade.

"We're seeing the pendulum swing back with this discovery, where we can now see astronomy playing a role in ordering their society," said Simon Martin, a Mayan writing expert at Philadelphia's Penn Museum.

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