The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 14, 2012

Other Views: It's safe to plan for 2013


From Scripps Howard News Service

— It’s scientifically safe to make plans for 2013. The world will not end on Dec. 21 or the default date of Dec. 23, according to a newly discovered Mayan calendar.

If an incomplete ancient Mayan calendar, enthusiastically embraced by New Age cultists and those of an exceedingly gloomy pessimism, were to be believed, it didn’t matter who won the November election because neither the candidates, the voters who elected the winner nor, indeed, the whole rest of the world, would be around for the inauguration.

If the Mayans were so smart, you might ask, how come their civilization is no longer around, having collapsed in 900 A.D., leaving behind spectacular, if overgrown and crumbling, ruins and at least one calendar to terrify the gullible.

But a team of scientists, led by archaeologist William Saturno, found the workshop of an ancient Mayan calendar maker, in the unexcavated Guatemalan city of Xultun, largely unexplored except by looters.

One day while exploring the looters’ trenches with a student, Saturno came upon a small, relatively intact building and made two amazing discoveries.

One was the earliest known intact Mayan painting — a king painted bright blue and adorned with an ornate costume of feathers and jewelry. Except for the color, the jewelry and the feathers, it seems to have been the equivalent of the large portrait photographs of the current U.S. president that hang in every government office.

More important, Saturno found extensive columns of figures, tracking the movements of the moon, Mars and Venus. Each column was headed by a representation of one of the three moon gods — a jaguar, a woman and a skull, at least as exciting as today’s calendars with representations of cute kittens and excavating equipment.

The calendar spans 7,000 years and we seem to be halfway through, meaning doomsday is still 3,500 years off. “So much for the supposed end of the world,” Saturno said.

We wouldn’t exactly call his discovery a killjoy — we are talking about the end of the world, after all — but it does detract mightily from our sense of anticipation for December.

And we’ll still have to report for work on Jan. 2. According to the calendar of our current civilization, that’s a Wednesday.

Scripps Howard News Service