Maybe by 50 to 100 years, according to a new book called Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World. Gerardo Aldana, an associate professor at the Univ. of California at Santa Barbara focused on tackling the astronomical practices the Mayans used at the time.
Most of the data found in the archeological record amount to ritual events timed by astronomical phenomena; architecture oriented to observable astronomical events; or numerology tying together science, history, and religion with hieroglyphic inscriptions carved in stone.
“One of the principal complications is that there are really so few scholars who know the astronomy, the epigraphy, and the archeology,” says Aldana.
“Because there are so few people who are working on that, you get people who don’t see the full scope of the problem. And because they don’t see the full scope, they buy things they otherwise wouldn’t. It’s a fun problem.”
Aldana turns the lens away from just the archaeological record to include a critical attention to the methods used by modern scholars to access the astronomical events viewed by ancient astronomers.
I bold that because he makes an valid point. Like my art history lesson in the last post illustrated, interpretations can vary. It doesn’t matter how many people like the end-of-the-world scenario that’s been made popular by so many authors and films over the years, that doesn’t make it right. Aldana might not be right, either, of course. Maybe everyone reads more into that calendar than is needed.