Oldest known Maya calendar found in Guatemala "Patterns In The Sky"
By Thomas H. Maugh II | LATimes.com
In the remote northeastern corner of Guatemala, archaeologists have found what appears to be the 9th century workplace of a city scribe, an unusual dwelling adorned with magnificent pictures of the king and other royals and the oldest known Maya calendar.
This year has been particularly controversial among some cultists because of the belief that the Maya calendar predicts a major cataclysm — perhaps the end of the world — on Dec. 21, 2012. Archaeologists know that is not true, but the new find, written on the plaster equivalent of a modern scientist’s whiteboard, strongly reinforces the idea that the Maya calendar projects thousands of years into the future.
The astronomical calculations are similar to those found in the well-known Dresden Codex, a bark-paper Maya book from the 11th or 12th century, and they may yield insights on how that well-known work was prepared.
But scientists say the real value of the find is the rare appearance of paintings and numerical calculations. The building, dating from about AD 813 in what is known as the Classic Maya period, contains the oldest known Maya astronomical tables and the only preserved artwork not found in a palace.
The discoveries, made in a region of lowland rain forest, are unusual because artwork and writings from the area are easily destroyed by heat and rain.
"The state of preservation was remarkable," said archaeologist William A. Saturno of Boston University, who led the expedition.
"We’ve never seen anything like it," added archaeologist David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin, who is deciphering the hieroglyphs.
Stuart acknowledged that "we don’t know exactly what this is noting," but the Maya were looking at "patterns in the sky and intermeshing them mathematically."
Among other things, the calculations showed which god was the patron of each day and month, marked celestial events tied to religious ceremonies and allowed astronomers to calculate the dates of eclipses, which were important in ritual
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