Maya

End of the World in 2012? Maya “Doomsday” Calendar Explained

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 20, 2011   View Article

It’s remotely possible the world will end in December 2012. But don’t credit the ancient Maya calendar for predicting it, say experts on the Mesoamerican culture.

It’s true that the so-called long-count calendar—which spans roughly 5,125 years starting in 3114 B.C.—reaches the end of a cycle on December 21, 2012.

That day brings to a close the 13th Bak’tun, an almost 400-year period in the Maya long-count calendar.

But rather than moving to the next Bak’tun, the calendar will reset at the end of the 13th cycle, akin to the way a 1960s automobile would click over at mile 99,999.9 and reset to zero.

Human Sacrifice Found in Maya City Sinkhole

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 6, 2011   View Article

The bones of six humans—including two children—jade beads, shells, and stone tools are among the Maya”treasures” recently found in a water-filled cave off a sinkhole at the famous archaeological site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, archaeologists say.

The ancient objects are most likely related to a ritual human sacrifice during a time when water levels were lower, sometime between A.D. 850 and 1250, the researchers say.

Blood-Red Pyramid Tomb Revealed by Tiny Camera

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 29, 2011   View Article

Seen for the first time in centuries, a 1,500-year-old tomb comes to light via a tiny camera lowered into a Maya pyramid at Mexico‘s Palenque archaeological site in April. The intact, blood-red funeral chamber offers insight into the ancient city’s early history, experts say.

The tomb was discovered in 1999, though researchers have been unable to get inside due to the precarious structural state of the pyramid above. Any effort to penetrate the tomb could damage the contents within, according to the team, which is affiliated with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Instead, the archaeologists lowered the 1.6-by-2.4-inch (4-by-6-centimeter) camera through a 6-inch-wide (15-centimeter-wide) hole in an upper floor of the pyramid.

Bowl of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2010   View Article

Reeking of decay and packed with bowls of human fingers, a partly burned baby, and gem-studded teeth—among other artifacts—a newfound Maya king’s tomb sounds like an overripe episode of Tales From the Crypt.

But the tightly sealed, 1,600-year-old burial chamber, found under a jungle-covered Guatemalan pyramid, is as rich with archaeological gold as it is with oddities, say researchers who announced the discovery Friday.

Headless Man’s Tomb Found Under Maya Torture Mural

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 12, 2010   View Article

The tomb of a headless man adorned with jade has been discovered beneath an ancient Mexican chamber famously painted with scenes of torture.

Found under the Temple of Murals at the Maya site of Bonampak, the man was either a captive warrior who was sacrificed—perhaps one of the victims in the mural—or a relative of the city’s ruler, scientists speculate.

Ancient Gem Studded Teeth Show Skill of Ancient Dentist

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2009   View Article

The glittering “grills” of some hip-hop stars aren’t exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a new study says.

Maya and other ancient peoples of southern North America went to “dentists”—among the earliest known—to beautify their chompers with notches, grooves, and semi-precious stones, according to a recent analysis of thousands of teeth examined from collections in Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Ancient Maya Tomb Discovered in Guatemala

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 4, 2006   View Article

A newly uncovered Maya tomb might be the resting place of the first ruler of Waka’, an ancient city on what was a major trade route.

The tomb, uncovered deep in the jungles of Guatemala, contains a single skeleton lying on a stone bench, jade jewels, and the remains of a jaguar pelt, according to news reports.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach