Mexico

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.

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.

Pyramid Tomb Found: Signs of Civilization’s Birth?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2010   View Article

After sheltering jeweled royals for centuries, the oldest known tomb in Mesoamerica—ancient Central America and Mexico, roughly speaking—has been uncovered, archaeologists announced Tuesday.

Apparently caught between two cultures, the 2,700-year-old pyramid in Chiapa de Corzo (map), Mexico, may help settle a debate as to when and how the mysterious Zoque civilization arose, according to excavation leader Bruce Bachand.

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 Corpses Ritually Dug Up, Torn Apart, Reburied

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 9, 2010   View Article

According to the first known evidence of “double burials,” ancient people in what is now Mexico routinely dug up decomposing bodies and took off their arms, legs, and heads, then reburied the bodies, new research shows.

Indigenous peoples of the Cape Region of Baja California Sur practiced these double burials for about 4,500 years, from about 300 B.C. to the 16th-century A.D, when Europeans first arrived in the region, anthropologists say.

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.

Summer to Kill Swine Flu in U.S. and Mexico?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 30, 2009   View Article

The hot and humid days of summer could prove a death knell for the swine flu outbreak currently sweeping around the globe—at least in the U.S., Mexico, and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, experts say.

“If [the new swine flu strain] is like other types of influenza that have been tested, it would have a lower transmission rate in the summer,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an assistant professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, who studies how the water cycle affects the spread of disease.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach