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.

Righties ruled 600,000 years ago

Publication:   Date: April 20, 2011   View Article

Lefties were as outnumbered 600,000 years ago as they are today, according to telltale markings on teeth found on Neanderthal and Neanderthal ancestors in Europe.

The finding serves as a new technique to determine whether a person was left- or right-handed from limited skeletal remains, and it also suggests that a key piece for the origin of language was in place at least half a million years ago, David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas, told me today.

Spanish female faces getting bigger

Publication:   Date: April 4, 2011   View Article

Female faces have gotten larger in Spain over the past four centuries while those of men have stayed essentially the same, according to a new study that suggests differences in the craniofacial features of men and women have become less pronounced.

The finding is based on the comparison of more than 200 skulls dating to 20th- and 16th-century Spain, as well as approximately 50 skulls from 20th-century Portugal using a state-of-the art 3-D shape analysis system.

Will ‘hobbit’ tooth yield ancient DNA?

Publication:   Date: January 11, 2011   View Article

Scientists are gearing up to use a new drilling technique to extract ancient DNA from an 18,000-year-old tooth that belonged to a “hobbit,” the mysterious, diminutive creatures that once lived on the Indonesian island of Flores.

If successful, a comparison of the DNA with other species could help resolve disputes surrounding who the hobbits were and where they originated.

“Chilling” Child Sacrifices Found at Prehistoric Site

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 23, 2010   View Article

The skeletons of dozens of children killed as part of a ritual bloodletting sacrifice a thousand years ago have been discovered in northern Peru, a new study says.

The remains are the earliest evidence of ritualized blood sacrifice and mutilation of children that has so far been seen in the South American Andes, according to study leader Haagen Klaus.

Seeds of a paralytic and hallucinogenic plant called Nectandra, which also prevents blood clotting, were found with the skeletons, suggesting the children were drugged before their throats were slit and their chests cut open.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach