I had planned something else for this post, since it is #666, but I changed my mind this morning when I saw a 56 seconds long clip on the Rapport news on SVT (Swedish television) concerning the discovery of the astronomical tables at Xultun that I mentioned in my previous post. Vetenskapsradion, on the Swedish Radio, wanted me to check the Science article a couple of days ago before they reported on it today. I wish SVT had done the same thing because this short clip is full of disinformation. It is in Swedish (apart from some snapshots of William Saturno) so I will just mention the faults and correct them for any Swedish reader (you may not be able to see the clip abroad as well). For a more correct view of the contents, check this video on National Geographic.
The reporter claims the astronomical tables and their associated calendar information is/are similar to the “one that some people interpret as saying that the world will end in December this year”. Well, this is the main reason why there is a media hype surrounding this discovery. People make a connection to 2012 even if there is none. The columns relating to the moon do include the three lowest periods of the Long Count but these are not related to the “end” in 2012. The only “similarity” is that the periods of “moons” being referred to here is around 13 years long and number 13 is important in the Maya Long Count (the supposed “end” date is 13 Baktun). The other columns that begin with a tzolkin date are followed by Distance Numbers that in at least one case is longer than the assumed 13 Baktun “cycle”. This is why there is evidence that the Classic period Maya did not see any end in 2012, but that is only an indirect piece of information.
The reporter says that this discovery (at Xultun) is a proof that the Maya astronomers “prophesized” that 2012 would be the beginning of a new cycle. No, this contradicts what Saturno says. He says that the Maya believed in an infinity that they were tracking with the movements of the planets and stars. Sure, infinity may be cyclical but the Distance Numbers found at Xultun (and other sites) suggests there is no cyclical repetition of the Long Count.
How the Maya could be so good astronomers back then remains a secret according to the reporter. No, it is no secret at all. They simply used naked-eye astronomy but observed the sky for long periods. This is no mystery at all.
At the end of the clip the reporter says that the Maya “kingdom” (there were dozens of kingdoms) mysteriously went extinct 1000 years ago. How come the last independent Maya kingdom was conquered in 1697 then?
When there are so many major misunderstandings in less than one minute one wonders how good background check the same reporter(s) do with issues that I know nothing about…
And here it is, my celebration of reaching 666 blog posts: