Friday, May 11, 2012

Spoilsports! Spoilsports, I tell you!

Well, the old saw is that the Mayan people were such good astronomers, and ancient good astronomers are so good at prophesy (but somehow missed the factors that ended their empire) that they have, honestly, really, cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die predicted the world's ending this December. So, what could go wrong?

Archaeology, that's what. Guys and gals digging around in the remains of old, dead civilizations who find stuff just layin' around, that's what.

You know, things like old calendars. Mayan calendars that don't end this December but go on for about another five thousand years! Actually, they didn't find calendars, but they found the tables that Mayan astronomers used to calculate stuff - like calendars, and when the king's birthday falls into which god's period of influence - tables that tracked the orbits of the planets, like Venus, for about seven thousand years after when the tables were painted on the walls.

Not bad for folks without computers, huh?

From the Washington Post.

5 comments:

Ed Haines said...

On the other hand, the Mayans managed to despoil their environment through excessive foresting and poor soil preservation until their civilization collapsed. Wait a minute, modern man seems determined to do the same thing and appears to be succeeding.

Ed Haines said...

I just reread my comment. The last sentence should be three words longer for clarity. The words are "..at the destruction."

Robert Ahrens said...

I referred to that when I mentioned that they failed to predict the factors that led to their downfall. Such wonderful prognosticators!

Oldfart said...

Ed. As far as I know, we don't know why Mayan civilization collapsed or why Aztec civilization collapsed. We just guessing. It could have been anything or a combination of things. And, I'd like to point out that, despite all this civilization collapsing, humans have done fairly well for themselvs - all 6+ billion of us. But, that could come to a screaming halt in the relatively near future when it starts getting really hot.

Robert Ahrens said...

Actually, George, scientists do think that some form of a change in climate caused a collapse of agriculture, which, in an agrarian society, probably spelled the beginning of the end. Not definitive, nor is it a firm consensus yet, but it is a theory that's gaining traction. It is known, also, that older forms of farming tended to leach nutrients from the soil (modern methods of crop rotation hadn't been developed yet), so Ed isn't far off, if one combines that with a change in climate.