Pre-Columbian art May 2012

1. Four long numbers on the north wall of a ruined house related to the Maya calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars; the dates stretch some 7,000 years into the future. Archaeologists have found the small room where royal scribes apparently used walls like a blackboard to keep track of astronomical records and the society's intricate calendar some 1,200 years ago. Anthony Aveni of Colgate University, along with William Saturno of Boston University and others, are reporting the discovery in the Friday, May 11, 2012 issue of the journal Science. AP Photo/National Geographic, Tyrone Turner.
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2. PHILADELPHIA (AP).- If the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012 — as some believe the Maya predicted — that leaves plenty of opportunity to see a new exhibit that examines the civilization's ancient kingdoms, intricate calendar systems and current culture. Experts at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia apparently give little credence to the apocalypse myth, considering the show runs through early 2013. But they say the legend, which has been perpetuated in pop culture through disaster movies and sensational tabloid headlines, offers a chance to engage people about ancient and modern Maya society. "Maya 2012: Lords of Time" features artifacts excavated from the historic Maya ruins of Copan in Honduras, including burial jewelry, food vessels and ceramic figures. Honduras President Porfirio Lobo Sosa is scheduled to cut the ribbon when the exhibit opens on Saturday. The show also uses interactive displays to explain the culture's glyph writing and sophisticated timetables. The upshot is that while it's human nature to seek ancient insight into the current world, people should not interpret the Maya calendar as predicting a cataclysmic event. "It's just a turn of a cycle," said curator Loa Traxler. Regarded as one of the world's greatest early societies, the Maya lived for centuries in parts of Mexico and Central America. Many of their iconic pyramids and other city remnants still stand in places like Copan, where 16 Maya kings ruled for about 400 years. As early astronomers, the Maya devised various types of calendars by observing celestial movements. Their "Long Count" calendar begins in 3114 B.C. and marks time in roughly 394-year periods known as baktuns. Thirteen was a sacred number for the Maya, and some scholars believe the 13th baktun ends on Dec. 21, 2012. Penn Museum experts say it ends Dec. 23, but that then another calendar cycle will begin — not Armageddon.  A jade figurine of Maize God is shown at the Maya 2012: Lords of Time exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia. The exhibit opened May 5. AP Photo/Matt Rourke.
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3. MEXICO CITY.- Youths look at a replica of the headdress that was reputedly once owned by the last Aztec emperor on exhibit behind glass at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, Friday, April 27, 2012. Mexicos Senate approved changes to a cultural exchange agreement with Austria meant to help win the temporary return of the original headdress. The emperor Montezuma supposedly gave the headdress to Spanish conquerors but did not wear it himself. AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini.
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