Oldest Mayan calendar found in Guatemala
Calendar provides further evidence to contradict 2012 doomsday theories
Archaeologists have found what is believed to be the oldest Mayan calendar ever discovered deep in the Guatemalan rainforest.
According to a report in the journal Science, the calendar, written on the walls of a small two-metre-by-two-metre room, dates back to the 9th century, predating previously discovered Mayan calendars by hundreds of years.
The find was made by archaeologists from the Boston University at the site near Xultun in northern Guatemala - the largest known Mayan city.
It is the first time a calendar has been found on the walls of a house rather than on paper and features red and black hieroglyphics, which it is thought denote the cycles of lunar phases or the movements of the planets.
"Many of these hieroglyphs are calendrical in nature and relate astronomical computations, including at least two tables concerning the movement of the Moon, and perhaps Mars and Venus," the team wrote.
The calendar also provides further evidence against the notion that the Mayans predicted that the end of the world would take place in 2012.
Conspiracy theorists have derived this conclusion from the fact that one particular type of Mayan calendar seems to terminate after 13 'b'ak'tuns' (roughly 394 years) from a supposed mythical creation date.
The 13th b'ak'tun is due to end on December 21st 2012.
However, this newly discovered calendar appears to chart cycles that go on well beyond this date.
For those interested in the ancient Mayan civilisation, Guatemala is probably one of the best destinations to include on an overland adventure through Central and South America.
As well as Xultun, the country is home to one of the other of the largest Mayan sites to be discovered in the form of nearby Tikal.
Tikal was the capital of a state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya and ruins at the site date back as far as the 4th century BC.