PhotoThe end of the Mayan calendar on December 21 doesn't mean the end of the world, according to researchers at Boston University.

Though few have taken it seriously, some have theorized that that Mayan astronomers had a glimpse of the distant future when they ended the calendar at what turns out to be December 21, 2012. There was even a disaster movie about it a few years ago.

It turns out it's a false alarm. BU Assistant Professor of Archaeology William Saturno and his team recently excavated a Maya ruin in Guatemala and uncovered a wall of paintings with calculations relating to the Maya calendar.

“For the first time we get to see what may be actual records kept by a scribe, whose job was to be official record keeper of a Maya community,” Saturno said. “It’s like an episode of TV’s ‘Big Bang Theory,’ a geek math problem and they’re painting it on the wall. They seem to be using it like a blackboard.”

Just a cycle

After deciphering the calculations, the project scientists say that despite popular belief, there is no sign that the Maya calendar — or the world — was to end in the year 2012, just one of its calendar cycles.

“It’s like the odometer of a car, with the Maya calendar rolling over from the 120,000s to 130,000,” said Anthony Aveni, professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University, a coauthor of the paper being published in the journal Science. “The car gets a step closer to the junkyard as the numbers turn over; the Maya just start over.”


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