This still from a National Geographic video shows part of a structure whose walls are painted with Mayan calendar calculations going well beyond 2012.

Doomsday Busted: Mayan Calendar Looks Ahead 7,000 Years


A team of archaeologists has discovered a series of murals deep in the Guatemalan jungle, one of them a calendar that looks far into the future, the scientists announced on May 10. And rather than predicting endings, said expedition leader William Saturno, the Mayans were looking for things to stay the same—at a time when drought may well have been collapsing their civilization.

"The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this," Saturno said in a statement from the National Geographic Society, which helped fund the research. "We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It's an entirely different mindset." In other words, you can cancel those Apocalypse plans. December 21, 2012, will dawn as any other day. Saturno, a Boston University archaeologist, has chronicled the discovery in the current issue of the journal Science as well as in National Geographic’s June issue, with an overview in this video.

What his team found while excavating Xultún, in the Petén region of Guatemala, was what seems to be the town scribe’s workspace. The walls are painted with what look like numbers and calculations related to the Maya calendar, Saturno’s statement said, as if they're jotted on a blackboard. On one wall are four long numbers that represent “one-third of a million to 2.5 million days [that] likely bring together all of the astronomical cycles—such as those of Mars, Venus and the lunar eclipses—the Maya thought important, dates that stretch some 7,000 years into the future,” Saturno’s National Geographic statement said. “This is the first place Maya archaeologists have found that seems to tabulate all of these cycles in this way. Another number scratched into the plaster surface likely records the date—813 A.D., a time when the Maya world had begun to collapse.”

Another wall contains columns upon columns of numbers of calendar and other calculations, some tracking the moon’s phases, others trying to reconcile lunar periods with solar calendars, and another with red notes that seem to be corrections on other calculations. "Skywatching like this was a tool for predicting eclipses," Saturno’s statement said.

Many have been refuting the Doomsday idea, at least as far as the Maya calendar goes. Maya wisdom keepers gathered last month to try and dispel the notion of the end of the world via a teleconference. And a group of Mayan women gave a talk in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to talk people out of believing in impending doom. But now what modern science would consider hard evidence from the ancient Mayans themselves has come to bear. Rather than predicting the end times, they were, as NASA has said in a Q&A dispelling Doomsday myths, simply doing the equivalent of flipping the calendar from December to January. And they did so with precise astronomical calculations.

The 7,000-year table is filled with numbers calculating the length of time that Venus and Mars take to criss-cross the sky twice. “What they’re trying to do is understand the large cycles of cosmic time," Saturno told the Washington Post. “Like a lot of ancient cultures, they were able with naked-eye astronomy to calculate the paths of the planets,” Mayan hieroglyphics expert David Stuart, who was also on the expedition, told the Washington Post. “We tend to forget that before telescopes, people were able to analyze the movement of planets in a lot of detail—and figure out exactly, to the day, the length of a Venus year and a Mars year.”

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globe's picture
Submitted by globe on
OMG, here is an actual case where an archaeologist has saved the world from doomsday! We are all indebted to to Dr. Saturno for his discovery of the new calendar has averted the End of the World.

thymebee's picture
Submitted by thymebee on
good one globe, c'mon 'experts' have you ever in a good way asked the Mayan Elders about the fake doomsday predictions? (made by money hungry and sensationalistic authors and so-called experts) The calendar cycle ends and a new one begins.

psette's picture
Submitted by psette on
I find it interesting that the Mayan civilization were able to predict how long a light-in-the-sky would reappear in positions.

shaunacu's picture
Submitted by shaunacu on
we maya new it would not end 2012,altho something great will happen great can always be either way all natives dream hard,visits from ancestors my dreams are great and sometimes scary i dont understand if its the past i see or the future but it does show alot of distruction i need an elder to help me in the dream i see fire....the paved roads are turned into gravel form this powerful force in the dream im in it only after this greatness happens so i dont no what it means but its the same dream since 6 im 31 now before i was visited by the blue jaguar a deity in disguise tells me to keep the winaq alive and not walk away from are ancestors and forget about the winaq like my others in my family i no something great is still to come

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on