Category Archives: MEXICO

Lasers reveal sites used as the Americas’ oldest known star calendars

Lasers reveal sites used as the Americas’ oldest known star calendars

Lasers reveal sites used as the Americas’ oldest known star calendars
This laser-mapped, eastward-looking view of the Maya site Aguada Fénix includes a rectangular ceremonial center (top center) oriented toward sunrise at a particular time of year.

Olmec and Maya people living along Mexico’s Gulf Coast as early as 3,100 years ago built star-aligned ceremonial centers to track important days of a 260-day calendar, a new study finds.

The oldest written evidence of this calendar, found on painted plaster mural fragments from a Maya site in Guatemala, dates to between 300 and 200 B.C., nearly a millennium later (SN: 4/13/22). But researchers have long suspected that a 260-day calendar developed hundreds of years earlier among Gulf Coast Olmec groups.

Now, an airborne laser-mapping technique called light detection and ranging, or lidar, has revealed astronomical orientations of 415 ceremonial complexes dating to between about 1100 B.C. and A.D. 250, say archaeologist Ivan Šprajc and colleagues.

Most ritual centers were aligned on an east-to-west axis, corresponding to sunrises or other celestial events on specific days of a 260-day year, the scientists report January 6 in Science Advances.

The finding points to the earliest evidence in the Americas of a formal calendar system that combined astronomical knowledge with earthly constructions. This system used celestial events to identify important dates during a 260-day portion of a full year.

“The 260-day cycle materialized in Mesoamerica’s earliest known monumental complexes [and was used] for scheduling seasonal, subsistence-related ceremonies,” says Šprajc, of the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana. “We cannot be certain exactly when and where it was invented.”

Some of the oldest ceremonial centers identified by lidar clearly belong to the Olmec culture, but others are hard to classify, says archaeologist Stephen Houston of Brown University in Providence, R.I., who did not participate in the new study.

Olmec society dates from around 3,500 to 2,400 years ago. Links between the Olmec and later Maya culture, known best for Classic-era cities and kingdoms that flourished between roughly 1,750 and 1,100 years ago, are unclear. But Classic Maya inscriptions and documents also reference the 260-day calendar.

Mobile groups in Mesoamerica, an ancient cultural region that extended from central Mexico to Central America, may have scheduled large, seasonal gatherings using the 260-day calendar long before it gained favor among Classic Maya kings, Šprajc and colleagues suggest.

The same calendar may also have marked days of important agricultural activities or rituals as maize cultivation spread in Mesoamerica starting around 3,000 years ago, they add. Some Maya communities still use a 260-day calendar to organize maize cultivation and schedule agricultural rituals.

Previous lidar data indicated that ceremonial centers based on a common blueprint appeared at many Olmec and Maya sites along Mexico’s Gulf Coast by about 3,400 years ago (SN: 10/25/21). Only now has the calendrical significance of ceremonial centers’ alignments become apparent.

The most common architectural alignment detected in the new study corresponded to the position of sunrises on February 11 and October 29 when complexes were in use, separated by 260 days. These complexes faced east toward a point on the horizon where the sun rose on those two days.

Another frequent orientation matched sunrises separated by 130 days, or half of the 260-day count.

A minority of ceremonial complexes were aligned with dates of solstices (longest and shortest days of the year), quarter days (the midpoint of each half of the year) or lunar cycles in the 260-day year. Other centers tracked the position of Venus, a star associated with the rainy season and maize farming.

Sunrises or sunsets recorded at ceremonial centers were typically separated by multiples of 13 or 20 days. Aside from representing basic mathematical units of a 260-day year, the numbers 13 and 20 have long been associated with various gods and sacred concepts among Maya people and other Mesoamerican groups, Šprajc says.

Future excavations at lidar-detected ceremonial complexes can investigate whether ancient groups formally dedicated certain structures to specific days in the 260-day year, Houston says.

Ice Age Hunting Camp Identified in Mexico

Ice Age Hunting Camp Identified in Mexico

This story begins anywhere from 4,000 to 17,000 years ago, when woolly mammoths roamed the Earth. It picks up in Mexico in the mid-1950s, when the remains of a couple of those mammoths — and stone tools with traces of human use — were found in the central part of the country.

Ice Age Hunting Camp Identified in Mexico
Bones of a woolly mammoth found in México state in the 1950s were recently re-examined by a Mexican research team using new technology.

Now flash forward to the present day, when a recent study of those artifacts, using modern science and technology, is giving new glimpses into what researchers now believe was an Ice Age camp of humans in what is today México state.

“The study indicates that it was a seasonal hunter-gatherer camp,” archaeologist Patricia Pérez Martínez, author and coordinator of the project, said Tuesday during a presentation of the study’s findings.

The animal remains and artifacts, found nearly seven decades ago during a public works project in the small community of Santa Isabel Ixtapan, represent “the first material evidence of the existence of this type of site on the shores of Lake Texcoco, around 9,000 years ago,” Pérez said.

Lead researcher on the study Patricia Pérez Martínez heads the Hunter-Gatherer Technology Laboratory at the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico City.

The findings are significant because small villages of humans in that time period usually existed in caves and rock shelters, often in mountainous regions, usually in the northern region of Mexico.

“Finding a seasonal hunter-gatherer camp in the open air is very [rare],” Pérez said. 

Indeed, the Santa Isabel Ixtapan site is the only one in the Valley of México with direct evidence of stone tools and mammoth bones, she added.

The first set of bones was found here in 1954, and then two years later, another mammoth’s remains, along with stone tools, were found about 250 meters away. Then, between 2019 and 2021, more bones and “possible mammoth traps” were discovered.

These days, in tribute to the area’s prehistoric past, there is a sculpture of the long-tusked, giant beast in the middle of a roundabout in Santa Isabel Ixtapan.

The research project, “Interaction of First Settlers and Megafauna in the Basin of México,” is a joint effort between INAH and the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), where Pérez heads the Hunter-Gatherer Technology Laboratory.

Employees hard at work at the Hunter-Gatherer Technology Laboratory.

The effort to reevaluate the site was carried out with advanced technology tools and testing methods that Pérez said can lead to fresh findings about the landscape, megafauna (large animals) and human interactions with the surroundings.

Her hypothesis is that the ancient human inhabitants used and subsisted on the lake’s resources, which she said is supported by the discovery of small fragments of fish bone (seemingly cooked in some sort of charcoal) and obsidian microflakes (indicating residue from a stone that was possibly carved into a tool).

“Since the flakes are very small fragments, we hope that in the next [field research] session, scheduled for this year, we will be able to do extensive excavation that will give us a better context,” said Pérez.

“Likewise, in 2023, the soil samples will be studied in our laboratories, and the traces of use of the three tools found with the second mammoth — which are exhibited in the National Museum of Anthropology — will be analyzed,” she said. 

“Initially, they were thought to be hunting projectile points, but recently, more detailed observations place them as knives, possibly used for butchering.”

Ceremonial cave site from Postclassic Maya period discovered in Yucatán Peninsula

Ceremonial cave site from Postclassic Maya period discovered in Yucatán Peninsula

Ceremonial cave site from Postclassic Maya period discovered in Yucatán Peninsula

Archaeologists have discovered a ceremonial cave site in Chemuyil on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, that dates from the Postclassic Maya period.

As is known during the pre-Hispanic era diverse cultures existed throughout the territory of Mexican, but it was the Maya one of the most prevalent and the one that left the greatest records of its passage.

The Maya believed that the universe was split into three parts: heaven, earth, and the underworld, with caverns serving as a conduit or gateway to Xibalba, a realm governed by the Maya death gods and their assistants.

The Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) was notified of the site by personnel from the civil association Círculo Espeleológico del Mayab and the Urban Cenotes Project of Playa del Carmen, who identified archaeological remains whilst mapping cave systems in the region.

A team led by archaeologist Antonio Reyes was despatched to the site, where they discovered two vessels, one entire and the other broken, as well as a tripod bowl dating from the Late Postclassic Maya (1200–1550 AD).

The first is a Navulá-type monochrome vessel that still has one of its two handles, whilst the second is a globular pot, which was found fragmented because of tree roots that crushed the vessel against some rocks.

Both vessels were positioned in natural niches where water dripped down from stalactites, whilst the tripod bowl was placed face down and covered with stones.

The researchers believe that the bowl was a ceremonial offering, whilst the two vessels were used for the ritual collection of water from the stalactites.

Although there are no major Maya centers within Chemuyil, the people living in the area between Playa del Carmen and Tulum often used many of the natural cavities, cenotes, and cave systems for ceremonial purposes.

Did the Aztecs Use Mountains to Track the Sun?

Did the Aztecs Use Mountains to Track the Sun?

Did the Aztecs Use Mountains to Track the Sun?
Aztec farming calendar accurately tracked seasons, leap years

Without clocks or modern tools, ancient Mexicans watched the sun to maintain a farming calendar that precisely tracked seasons and even adjusted for leap years.

Before the Spanish arrival in 1519, the Basin of Mexico’s agricultural system fed a population that was extraordinarily large for the time.  Whereas Seville, the largest urban center in Spain, had a population of fewer than 50,000, the Basin, now known as Mexico City, was home to as many as 3 million people.  

To feed so many people in a region with a dry spring and summer monsoons required advanced understanding of when seasonal variations in weather would arrive.

Rising sun seen from the stone causeway on Mount Tlaloc in Mexico.

Planting too early, or too late, could have proved disastrous. The failure of any calendar to adjust for leap-year fluctuations could also have led to crop failure.

Though colonial chroniclers documented the use of a calendar, it was not previously understood how the Mexica, or Aztecs, were able to achieve such accuracy.

New UC Riverside research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates how they did it. They used the mountains of the Basin as a solar observatory, keeping track of the sunrise against the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

“We concluded they must have stood at a single spot, looking eastwards from one day to another, to tell the time of year by watching the rising sun,” said Exequiel Ezcurra, distinguished UCR professor of ecology who led the research. 

Stone causeway atop Mount Tlaloc, Mexico.

To find that spot, the researchers studied Mexica manuscripts. These ancient texts referred to Mount Tlaloc, which lies east of the Basin.

The research team explored the high mountains around the Basin and a temple at the mountain’s summit.

Using astronomical computer models, they confirmed that a long causeway structure at the temple aligns with the rising sun on Feb. 24, the first day of the Aztec new year.

“Our hypothesis is that they used the whole Valley of Mexico. Their working instrument was the Basin itself. When the sun rose at a landmark point behind the Sierras, they knew it was time to start planting,” Ezcurra said.

The sun, as viewed from a fixed point on Earth, does not follow the same trajectory every day. In winter, it runs south of the celestial equator and rises toward the southeast. As summer approaches, because of the Earth’s tilt, sunrise moves northeast, a phenomenon called solar declination. 

This study may be the first to demonstrate how the Mexica were able to keep time using this principle, the sun, and the mountains as guiding landmarks.

Though some may be familiar with the “Aztec calendar,” that is an incorrect name given to the Sun Stone, arguably the most famous work of Aztec sculpture used solely for ritual and ceremonial purposes. 

“It did not have any practical use as a celestial observatory. Think of it as a monument, like Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square or Lincoln’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.,” Ezcurra said. 

Learning about Aztec tools that did have practical use offers a lesson about the importance of using a variety of methods to solve questions about the natural world. 

“The same goals can be achieved in different ways. It can be difficult to see that sometimes. We don’t always need to rely solely on modern technology,” Ezcurra said. “The Aztecs were just as good or better as the Europeans at keeping time, using their own methods.”

The Aztec observatory could also have a more modern function, according to Ezcurra.

Comparing old images of the Basin of Mexico to current ones shows how the forest is slowly climbing up Mount Tlaloc, likely as a result of an increase in average temperatures at lower elevation. 

“In the 1940s the tree line was way below the summit. Now there are trees growing in the summit itself,” Ezcurra said. “What was an observatory for the ancients could also be an observatory for the 21st century, to understand global climate changes.”

Maya Statue Discovered in the Yucatán

Maya Statue Discovered in the Yucatán

Maya Statue Discovered in the Yucatán
The headless statue may represent a decapitated prisoner of war, the INAH director explained.

An imposing, life-size sculpture of a headless human found during excavation work for the Maya Train has been temporarily nicknamed “Yum keeb” — the god of the phallus or fertility. 

The finding occurred in the state of Yucatán in the archaeological zone of Oxkintok, about 55 kilometers south of Mérida. The limestone statue without a head, hands, lower legs and feet measures 1.65 meters tall, or about 5 feet 5 inches.

“He was found lying on his back and represents the human figure,” archaeologist Luis Pantoja Díaz said during a media tour of the area on Wednesday. “We see the marked pectorals, the middle part that could be the hanging belly and the part of the member.”

He also said one could see buttocks (which are clearly visible in the photo) and some lines on the back, such as those that delineate shoulder blades (which are not).

While the newspaper La Jornada used the terms falo (phallus) and miembro (member) in describing the figure, another newspaper reported nothing along those lines, or about fertilidad (fertility), explaining instead that the sculpture is that of a warrior.

Its lack of a head “surely represents a warrior who was a prisoner in combat,” said Diego Prieto, general director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), as quoted by El Financiero.

Both sources said the sculpture was possibly used as an offering to the gods. It was found near a hieroglyph-laden staircase that was being cleaned and restored.

Pantoja Díaz stressed that the figure is still being analyzed to determine its specific function, thus the “temporary” nickname. Even the statue’s status as the representation of a male is not 100% assured, he added.

Oxkintok was a Maya city that existed in the latter portion of the Mesomerican Classic Period (A.D. 250 to 900) and was the capital of the region before the emergence of Uxmal. Noted for its historical markers, such as pyramids and monuments, it is nestled among mountains that are covered in undergrowth — with lots of potential discoveries still to be made.

The statue was found in Oxkintok in western Yucatán, along Section 3 of the Maya Train. (INAH)

The Maya Train has been divided into seven sections and the INAH reportedly has completed its excavation work in sections 1-3 and 5, with No. 4 to be completed soon and sections 6 and 7 in the prospecting stage.

“We have uncovered information that will nourish the knowledge of the Mesoamerican Maya world for at least the next two decades,” said Prieto, the INAH director. “This work will undoubtedly impact the study of Maya cultures … over many, many years.”

Overall, according to INAH data through Dec. 6, findings on the entire Maya Train route include 31,306 structures including foundations, 1,541 ceramics and chiseled stones, 463 sets of bones or skeletons, 1,040 natural features such as caves and cenotes, 708,428 ceramic figures and fragments (from sections 1-4) and 576 pieces in the process of analysis.

The Maya Train, one of President Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador’s most ambitious projects, and one that has been challenged by various problems and issues, will pass through Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo.

Originally budgeted for nearly US $8 billion in 2020, it has now ballooned to up to US $20 billion, according to reports.

Last month, AMLO was quoted as saying that “the largest [current] railway project in the world” at 1,550 kilometers (963 miles) will be completed “in December 2023.”

Archaeologists Open a Sealed ‘Jaguar God’ Cave Undisturbed For Over 1,000 Years

Archaeologists Open a Sealed ‘Jaguar God’ Cave Undisturbed For Over 1,000 Years

Archaeologists Open a Sealed 'Jaguar God' Cave Undisturbed For Over 1,000 Years

Luis Un was just a boy when he first visited the cave.

It was 1966, and farmers had stumbled upon the hidden cavern by chance. They alerted a prominent Mexican archaeologist, who promptly sealed the entrance. Decades passed, the strange place was forgotten. But not by Luis Un.

Last year, Un, now a 68-year-old, led archaeologists back to this undisturbed secret under the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá, along the north edge of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

What it contains, researchers announced this week, amounts to the most important such discovery in the region since the 1950s: hundreds of incredibly well-preserved Maya artefacts protected within an archaeological treasure trove called Balamkú (“the cave of the jaguar god”).

“Balamkú will help rewrite the story of Chichén Itzá,” says archaeologist Guillermo de Anda from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, and the director of the Great Maya Aquifer Project (GAM).

“The hundreds of archaeological artefacts, belonging to seven [ritual offering chambers] documented so far, are in an extraordinary state of preservation.”

According to the team, in the Late Classic (700–800 CE) and Terminal Classic (800–1000 CE) periods of Maya civilisation, droughts in the Yucatán region obliged its ancient inhabitants to look elsewhere for water.

In natural sinkholes called cenotes and the sprawling cave systems branching off from them, the Maya found not just vital groundwater, but something else too: divinity.

“For the ancient Maya, caves and cenotes were considered openings to the underworld,” anthropologist Holley Moyes from the University of California, Merced, who wasn’t involved with the team, explained to National Geographic.

“They represent some of the most sacred spaces for the Maya, ones that also influenced site planning and social organisation. They are fundamental, hugely important, to the Maya experience.”

Because of this, these giant underwater caves inhabited long ago can yield just as many secrets about the mysterious culture as the equally epic Maya dwellings above the ground.

One of the most famous of those structures is El Castillo – aka the Temple of Kukulcána, a stunning pyramid that forms one of the central landmarks of Chichén Itzá. It stands less than three kilometres (under two miles) from the newly explored cave.

This close proximity makes Balamkú, and the more than 200 artefacts it contains a truly important find.

“Because the context remained sealed for centuries, it contains invaluable information related to the formation and fall of the ancient ‘City of Water Wizards’, and about [those] who were the founders of this iconic site,” de Anda says.

The items found so far include incense holders, food containers, and drinking vessels – many bearing the iconography of Tlāloc, the god of water (and fertility) who appears in different forms across ancient Mesoamerican cultures.

Some of the artefacts contain ancient traces of food, bone, minerals, and seeds. By analysing these, the researchers could learn even more about the people who once inhabited this long-hidden space.

We can likely expect even more discoveries, since the worm-like cave extends for hundreds of metres which are yet to be explored in depth.

Part of the reason the artefacts are so well preserved is because Balamkú is such an inaccessible recess and natural hiding place – calling for the archaeologists to stoop and crawl as they travel through it, especially in stretches that are only 40 centimetres high.

There’s also not a lot of oxygen in the caves, and snakes to contend with. But nobody is complaining.

“The place is extraordinary,” de Anda told The New York Times.

“Now comes a stage of documentation, protection, and conservation of this marvellous and unique place.”

In addition, the team will continue to search further, looking for a possible underground link to the nearby pyramid.

“Let’s hope this leads us there,” de Anda told Associated Press.

“That is part of the reason why we are entering these sites, to find a connection to the cenote under the Castillo.”

Whether or not one turns up, the rediscovered cave and the objects inside it already serve as a priceless lifeline: a rare, tangible connection between a vanished culture and the explorers of today, both young and old.

“I couldn’t speak, I started to cry,” de Anda told National Geographic, recounting the experience of entering the cave for the first time.

“You almost feel the presence of the Maya who deposited these things in there.”

Maya Stucco Masks Revealed in Mexico

Maya Stucco Masks Revealed in Mexico

These faces, these portraits, look at us from the past, their gaze transports us to the royal court of the ancient and powerful Mayan kingdom.

The Federal Ministry of Culture, through the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), announced that, in 42 years of research work in the archaeological zone of Toniná, archaeologist Juan Yadeun Angulo, has found a diversity of archaeological materials, among which a large number of masks stand out, with various representations in stucco and sculptures, which give an idea of ​​the ancient inhabitants of this city.

The researcher from the INAH Chiapas Center indicates that some of the stucco pieces were found around the structure known as the House of the Recreation of the Universe, which is to the southeast of the Sunken Plaza of the Palacio de Los Caracoles, which date from around from the years 650 to 700 of our era.

Yadeun Angulo explains that these masks, the majority of which were discovered in 2013, and since then, protected and preserved by the INAH, in the archive’s warehouse of the archaeological site, represent themes of the underworld, the earth and the sky, the levels were the lords of Toniná, the rulers and the people in general thought that it was distributed to the world and to the deities.

Likewise, in Toniná, the use of the human face in architecture is clearly seen: “Here the human body is part of the decoration of the buildings”, highlights the archaeologist.

Within the singular collection of masks, the representation of the lord of the underworld found in a crypt of the Temple of the Sun in 2018 stands out first; the archaeologist explains that all the beings of the underworld do not have a lower jaw, which makes it evident that they are dead, in addition to the fact that this representation is clearly a deity with said characteristic.

“This gentleman has the upper jaw and a shark tooth, because they are solar deities and he really is a monstrous doll, it was part of a huge representation, where it was seen how the lords of Toniná have a relationship with fantastic beings from the interior of the earth and of the starry sky”, comments the archaeologist.

The representation of gods from other cultures also stands out, such as that of a totally Teotihuacan Tláloc; Although the piece is fragmented, it presents the typical characteristics of this Central Mexican deity, who we know had a great influence on the Classic Maya, for which Yadeun warns that this sculpture speaks of an evident relationship with the Central Highlands.

In the same way, there are other sculptures that represent rulers who are in the exercise of their power and, therefore, are remembered with all their magnificence. 

The archaeologist also mentions another mask that served as a mannequin and as an element to make jade masks, since masks can still be seen on top of the mask-mannequin.

Yadeun Angulo hopes that in the future they will be able to hold temporary exhibitions to show the public the valuable collection that Toniná keeps since there are collections of full-body sculptures of ruling gods, representations of scenes from the Popol Vuh myth, as well as entire pages, where the twins Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué are seen, who are related to the earth, the beings of the underworld and the sky.

“These faces, these portraits, look at us from the past, their gaze transports us to the royal court of the ancient and powerful Mayan kingdom of Po’o”, concludes the archaeologist. 

Mayan DISCOVERY: How find in 2,000-year-old city ‘reveals story of creation’

Mayan DISCOVERY: How find in 2,000-year-old city ‘reveals story of creation’

The Mayans were a civilisation known for their architecture, mathematics and astronomical beliefs, who date back as far as 2000BC. However, thanks to a discovery made at the El Mirador site in northern Guatemala, historians are able to know more about their theories over how human beings ended up on Earth. Archaeologist Richard Hansen took Morgan Freeman to see a spectacular discovery deep in the jungles during the filming of “The Story of God”.

He told Mr Freeman in 2017: “We like to think of Los Angeles and New York as being modern cities, but these guys had the same perspective of their own city. 

“They had water delivery systems. they had freeways – the very first in the world. 

“This is one of the most interesting excavations we have ever had. 

“This is art that was carved in stucco hundreds of years before Christ and it has an incredible scene showing the entire pantheon of the Mayan religion.

Mayan DISCOVERY: How find in 2,000-year-old city ‘reveals story of creation’
Richard Hansen pointed out the strange artwork
The team travelled deep into the jungles

This is one of the most interesting excavations we have ever had

Richard Hansen

“This is the Mayan Bible, the Mayan Genesis story with all the deities that are needed to tell the story.”

Mr Hansen went on to reveal what he believed the stonework represented. 

He added: “This is the oldest version of the Mayan’s sacred story of creation that has ever been found.

“The focus is on two swimmers carrying a severed head.

“It’s this head right here that gave us the clue who this might be a the first place. 

They visited El Mirador site in Northern Guatemala
The site is home to ancient Mayan structures

“We think this is Hunahpu – one of the hero twins that serves the whole process of creation.”

The Mayan Hero Twins are the central figures of the oldest Mayan myth to have been preserved in its entirety. Hunahpu and Xbalanque are portrayed as complementary forces – life and death, sky and Earth or day and night.  The pair need each other to balance out the other and balance out the two sides of a single entity. It comes after another discovery was revealed when the truth was over when the Mayans thought the world would end

The team uncovered inscriptions

In 2012, there was a brief frenzy after it was claimed that December 21 would mark the end of the world because it was the end-date of a 5,126-year cycle on the Mayan calendar. However, thanks to the discovery of a stone slate in Tikal, Guatemala, archaeologists are able to understand more about this key date. Stanley Guenter, a world-leading decoder of Mayan inscriptions, revealed during the same series: “This is stela 10, you can see we’ve got a king – there is his head and big headdress full of feathers, [his] shoulders, all of his jewellery and down to his feet.

“If you look down below, we can actually see we have a captive and we can see his hands and even legs – all tied up for sacrifice.

“[On the back] we have a date that gives us a specific point in time – 11 years and 360 days, then we have three katuns – which are 20 years each. 

“So that is another 60, and then we have nine b’ak’tuns, because this is a date of about 525AD.

“So if you remember we had 13 b’ak’tuns ended in 2012, but the really interesting thing is the monument does not stop there.”

Mr Guenter then went on to reveal how the entirety of the discovery reveals the 2012 prediction was just a single cycle inside a number of bigger cycles.

Archaeologists believe it is one of the Mayan Heroes Twins

He continued: “It tells us there were 19 of the higher unit – the pictun – and even higher, 11 at the next unit.

“Each one of those units is 20 times larger than the previous, so what we see on this monument is that 13 b’ak’tuns was not the end of any calendar – just one cycle. 

“It was just the start of a new cycle, a new beginning, that would go on for almost eternity.

“We have never found the end for the Mayans.”