Four long numbers on the north wall of a ruined Mayan house relating to the Maya calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars. REUTERS/William Saturno and David Stuart/National Geographic/Handout
The discovery of the oldest known Mayan calendar to date gives no hint that the world will end in December 2012 - a belief strongly held by 10 percent of the world's population.
Archaeologists in Gautemala have uncovered a small room in the Mayan ruins where ancient royal scribes wrote astronomical records on walls some 1,200 years ago. The walls used for writing astronomical records also revealed the oldest known astronomical tables from the Mayan period.
Researchers said that the Mayan calendar predicted a vast evolution of time, with December 2012 heralding a new calendar cycle called baktun, Reuters reported.
Never-before-seen artwork - the first to be found on walls of a Maya house - adorn the dwelling in the ruined city of Xultun (REUTERS/Tyrone Turner/National Geographic/Handout)
The Mayan calendar consists of baktuns, each of which equals 400 years, or about 146,000 days and, according to Mayan legend, we are now living in the 13th baktun. And as we mark the end of the 13th baktun, the world will come to an end.
Proponents of the doomsday theory believe that 2012 would mark the end of the last of the 13 baktuns, but the newly discovered calendar has 17 baktuns which means that the world will not end in December 2012.
The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future, William Saturno of Boston University, an author of an article on the find in the journal Science, said.
Saturno also said that the finding appears to be the 260-day ceremonial calendar, 365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of Venus and the 780-day cycle of Mars.
According to Saturno, the writing in the calendars looks like someone tried to sort out a very long mathematics problem.
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. The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue - that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this. We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It's an entirely different mindset, ABC News reported quoting Saturno.
Archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University excavates a house in the ruins of the Maya city of Xultun (REUTERS/Tyrone Turner/National Geographic/Handout)
Anthony Aveni, professor of astronomy and anthropology at New York's Colgate University, is the co-author of the study. According to Aveni, the only thing that appeared to end in 2012 is one of the calendar's cycles and not the world.
It's like the odometer of a car, with the Maya calendar rolling over from the 120,000s to 130,000. The car gets a step closer to the junkyard as the numbers turn over; the Maya just start over, Aveni said.
The most exciting point is that we now see that the Maya were making such computations hundreds of years - and in places other than books - before they recorded them in the codices.
Although the 31 square kilometer site of Xultun was discovered 100 years ago, the small room where the new calendar is drawn was spotted only in 2010. Xultan is a place in Guatemala's deep in a rainforest where tens of thousands of people once lived and thousands of the remaining structures have not yet been explored.
It's weird that the Xultun finds exist at all. Such writings and artwork on walls don't preserve well in the Maya lowlands, especially in a house buried only a meter below the surface, Saturno said.
The building covered with vegetation was first spotted by Saturno's student Max Chamberlain in 2010, was possibly built before 890 A.D., a year when the last carved monument in Xultún was created.
The discoveries of the ancient paintings and calendars are remarkable because artwork and writings from that area are easily destroyed by heat and rain.
The state of preservation was remarkable, said Saturno.
Findings also revealed various male figures on the walls and the ceiling that were in a good shape with some never-before-seen paintings.
The walls were also decorated with the painting of a seated king with a scepter and wearing blue feathers. On the other wall, three male figures are painted in black, seated and looking in one direction.
(Left) Three male figures, seated and painted in black are pictured in this undated handout of an artist's rendition of a Mayan painting. (Right) A vibrant orange figure, kneeling in front of the king on the ruined house's north wall, is labeled Younger Brother Obsidian, in this undated handout of an artist's rendition of a Mayan painting. (REUTERS/Heather Hurst/National Geographic/Handout)