(Roughly) Daily

Grace period…

Archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University excavates the house in the ruins of the Maya city of Xultun.

It’s with mixed emotions that your correspondent notes the emergence of firm evidence that the painfully powerfully-prescient Mayans did not in fact believe that the world will end this year…

In a striking find, archaeologists in Guatemala report the discovery of a small building whose walls display not only a stunningly preserved mural of a brightly adorned Mayan king, but also calendars that destroy any notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world in 2012.

These deep-time calendars can be used to count thousands of years into the past and future, countering pop-culture and New Age ideas that Mayan calendars ended on Dec. 21, 2012, (or Dec. 23, depending on who’s counting), thereby predicting the end of the world.

The newly found calendars, which track the motion of the moon, Venus and Mars, provide an unprecedented glimpse into how these storied sky-gazers — who dominated Central America for nearly 1,000 years — kept such accurate track of months, seasons and years.

“What they’re trying to do is understand the large cycles of cosmic time,” said William Saturno, the Boston University archaeologist who led the expedition. “This is the space they’re doing it in. It’s like looking into da Vinci’s workshop.”

Before the new find, the best-preserved Mayan calendars were inscribed in bark-paged books called codices, the most famous being the Dresden Codex. But those pages hail from several hundred years later than the newly found calendars…

After retracting the invitations and canceling the caterers– so much for what would have been, literally, the party to end all parties–  readers will find the full story in the Washington Post.


As we reconcile ourselves to more of the same, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that a huge 33-year-old man named Thomas Rees, AKA Twm Carnabwth, led a group of men dressed in women’s clothing in an attack on the toll gate at Efailwen, in Wales. The group called itself Merched Beca (“the Daughters of Rebecca”), and went on for another four years to attack and destroy toll gates in Wales. The “Rebecca Riots,” as they became known,” were the reaction of local tenant farmers and farmer workers to the imposition of tolls on local roads (and other taxes and rent increases they perceived as unfair). In the end, some rent reductions were achieved, the toll rates were reduced (but not eliminated: destroyed toll-houses were rebuilt), and the protests prompted several other reforms (e.g., Turnpikes Act of 1844, which simplified rates and reduced the hated toll on lime movement by half). But surely most significantly, the riots inspired later Welsh protests.

Depiction of the Rebecca Riots, Illustrated London News 1843


Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 13, 2012 at 1:01 am

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