Mystery Deepens -
Oldest Maya Calendars And Skeletal Remains Found At Site

16 August, 2012

Share this story:
Follow us: - Night had fallen over the dense jungle surrounding the ancient city of Xultún, Guatemala, and Franco Rossi and Aviva Cormier were kneeling in a deep tunnel, brushing dirt from an ancient ceramic vessel within what could be a tomb that had been found beneath the floor of a Maya ruin.

Rossi (GRS’15) used a fine brush to gently remove dirt from the tombstone’s surface so they could eventually lift it, while Cormier (GRS’16) carried the dirt out of the narrow trench.

That was when Rossi noticed it—a small fragment of a human skull beneath his brush.

“It was truly amazing,” he says. “Not only to uncover the ancient remains within this tomb, but to actually find what you had hoped would be there all along.”

In all, the excavation by a team of archaeologists led by William Saturno, a College of Arts and Sciences assistant professor of archaeology, revealed the skeletal remains of six people who researchers believe lived during the Classic period of ancient Maya civilization, between 250 and 950 A.D.

More important, members of the team suspect that the remains are linked to figures depicted in a mural just a few feet away. Saturno found that mural two years ago, along with a strange and unique series of calendric calculations, in what he believes was the workplace of a Maya scribe.

Those findings were published last spring in Science and National Geographic.

“We have this bizarre little room with notations in it, and we believe it’s part of a residential complex,” says Saturno, director of the BU Study Abroad Guatemala Archaeology Program.

William Saturno, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of archaeology, discover what is believed to be the workplace of a Maya scribe in the dense jungle surrounding the ancient city of Xultún, Guatemala.

“We’re looking at Maya scholars and scribes as they figured out their place in the universe. We can look at the history of science in the New World in a way that we couldn’t before. I feel like I can get into the head of these incredible scholars and ancient society.”

Saturno is famous among Central American archaeologists as the lucky finder of 2 of the 10 to 15 Maya murals known to exist. In March 2010, he led a team of BU archaeologists to Xultún, one of the largest and least explored of Maya centers.

A BU team has uncovered a Maya mural and a strange and unique series of calendric calculations, in what they believe to be the workplace of a Maya scribe. Video courtesy of National Geographic

The six-square-mile area is believed to have been home at one time to tens of thousands of people. Maxwell Chamberlain (CAS’11, GRS’12), one of Saturno’s Study Abroad students, wandered on a lunch break into a tunnel dug by looters, where he found a red line on a stucco wall, so faint he could barely make it out.

It was the edge of large mural that may depict the people whose remains were found by Rossi.

“If you look at the figures in the mural,” says Rossi, “almost every one is wearing two pendants—one in their headdress, one in their necklace. The person whose remains were recently unearthed is also wearing these two ceramic pendants, and one has a hole in it like it would have been on a necklace.

That’s why the find is a really big deal. We may actually have found one of the mural’s creators.”

The focus of the dig is a room roughly the size of a walk-in closet. The north wall is decorated with a mural with a seated king holding a scepter and wearing blue feathers. The west wall is dominated by three black human figures and millimeter-thick black and red glyphs.

The east wall has a seated figure painted in black, but also several mysterious hieroglyphic texts. These glyphs, which are unlike any at other Maya sites, appear to represent the various calendric cycles charted by the Maya—the 260-day ceremonial calendar, the 365-day solar calendar, the 177 (or 178) lunar semester, the 584-day cycle of Venus, and the 780-day cycle of Mars.

Saturno has since pioneered a way to jigger a flatbed scanner to take 8½-by-11-inch pictures of the wall. On the fourth floor of the College of Arts & Sciences, his students can see things that weren’t visible back in Xultún.

“We were only able to identify some of the astronomical tables through the scan,” Saturno says.

“Much of the paint wasn’t in a condition that we could identify it. Only through examining and processing the scans, and changing the red writing to black, did we see more numbers.”

Saturno and Rossi are persuaded that the calculations put an end to the “doomsday myth”—the belief that the Maya predicted the world would end in 2012.

“People love world ending scenarios,” says Rossi, who with Cormier continues work on the human remains.

“After this one, there’s going to be another one. It’s just what people do.”

See also:
Secretful Diablo Pyramid Sheds Light On The Mysterious Maya Sun God With Many Faces

Follow for the latest news on Facebook and Twitter !

Don't Miss Our Stories! Get Our Daily Email Newsletter

Enter your email address:

Once you have confirmed your email address, you will be subscribed to the newsletter.

Recommend this article:

2012 Maya Monument Discovered By Archaeologists

Archaeologists working at the site of La Corona in Guatemala have discovered a 1,300-year-old-year Maya text that provides only the second known reference to the so-called “end date” of the Maya calendar, December 21, 2012.

Will World End In 2012? The Oldest Ever Mayan Calendar Says - No!

Masks Of The Lost Kings By Tom Bane - Book Review

Subscribe To Our Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Earth and Xenology News!

Grab the latest RSS feeds right to your reader, desktop or mobile phone.

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner


Copyright © All rights reserved.

Advertise With Us!


 Subscribe in a reader

Join Us On Facebook!

Other Popular Articles

Not Of This World Relics Hidden From Public View For Many Years - Forgotten And Ignored

Many of out-of-place relics have been hidden from public view for many years because they do not fit the traditional model of human prehistory. According to this model based on evolutionary time scale, they are out-of-place because they predate human evolution. Often forgotten and ignored, they still prove evolution theory false showing human existence much further back into Earth's history...

Out-Of-Place Artifact With DNA "Not Similar" To Anything Ever Found On Earth

In the 30s of the twentieth century, a genuine, 900-year-old bone skull was discovered in an abandoned mine tunnel near Mexico's Copper Canyon. It was very different and until now is a subject of scientific interest and debate regarding both the unusual shape and properties of the bone. The Starchild skull does not resemble any of the skulls earlier analyzed by scientists. It represents something never seen before by science. Is the Starchild Skull an "alien" artifact, which means foreign to normal human genetics - as we know it, or definitely not from planet Earth?

Interview With Erich von Däniken - Father of The Ancient Astronauts Theory

Erich von Däniken, widely regarded as the father of ancient alien theory is one of the most successful and influential alternative history authors who have sold millions of books world-wide. Born in 1935, Switzerland, Däniken shocked the world with his first book Chariots of the Gods, in which he provided his readers with evidence that early humans had contacts with highly advanced civilizations in the distant past.

Tiny Seal Of Great Importance Discovered - Is It The First Archaeological Evidence Of Samson, The Biblical Slayer Of Philistines?
Researchers uncover a 12th Century BC seal depicting a man and Lion In Battle in Tel Beth Shemesh. Beth Shemesh, or "House of the Sun," is located about 19 miles (30 km) west of Jerusalem in the Sorek Valley...

Easter Island's Statues Reveal Bodies Covered With Unknown Ancient Petroglyphs

Standing some 2,000 miles west of Chile, on the Easter Island, 887 mysterious giant statues have intrigued scientists and the public for years. For a long time it was believed that the massive statutes consisted of just the heads. Now, scientists can reveal remarkable photos showing that the bodies of the statues go far deeper underground than just about anyone had imagined...

Controversial Artifacts No One Wants To Examine Thoroughly: Is There Something We Are Afraid Of Discovering?

An extremely high tech civilization definitely existed in the distant past of our planet, and we currently know nothing about these beings. Most of what we can learn about prehistoric people is from the artifacts they left behind. However, certain prehistoric findings seem to be extremely frustrating when it comes to analyzing their unknown properties..

Sirius Mystery by Robert Temple - Book Review

A spaceship arrived from the sky and landed with a great noise and wind, on three legs. "After the landing, something with four legs appeared and dragged the vessel to a hollow, which filled with water until the vessel floated in it," according to the Dogon legend that has been passed through generations. Did our ancestors have contact with highly advanced civilization living in Sirius star system?