The oldest version of the Mayan calendar reportedly has been discovered deep in the rainforest of Guatemala and it extends well beyond Dec. 21, 2012, a day some observers believe the world would come to an end.
According to a new article in Science journal, archaeologists from Boston University studying the ruins of a 9th century Mayan town in Guatemala discovered a room-like structure with the walls having been used by the ancient civilization to chart astronomical tables that are 500 years older than the charts preserved in the Maya codices. On the walls of the 1,200-year-old building the scientists also discovered a well-preserved wall mural of a Mayan king – the now oldest known Mayan painting.
The newly discovered astronomical tables span 7,000 years – far beyond year 2012 – putting an end to the claim that the Mayans believed the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012.
"Why would they go into those numbers if the world is going to come to an end this year," Anthony Aveni, an expert on Mayan astronomy told the New York Daily News.
Other scientists agree.
"The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future. Numbers we can't even wrap our heads around," archaeologist David Stuart of the University of Texas told MSNBC.com of the discovery.
Prior to the recent discovery, theorists who have studied the ancient civilization suggested that the "Long Count" calendar – a calendar that was created by the Mayans years after the newly discovered calendars – depicts the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012.
The "Long Count" was used by the Mayans to document past occurrences and predict future events. The calendar began in the year 3114 B.C. and was calculated to continue for 5,126 years, making the end date of the calendar in 2012.
Dec. 21 doomsayers have argued that everything from asteroids, to solar flares, to polar shifts will cause the collapse of the world.