In another life, I’m an archeologist. And I don’t mean the Indiana Jones kind. I mean this kind:
That's the view from a Skidmore College archaeologist and expert in ancient Maya culture who helped discover new Maya ruins in Guatemala that were announced Thursday by the National Geographic Society.
Digging with a team for 10 years in the Central American country's Peten region, Heather Hurst of Charlton helped find ancient figure paintings, hundreds of scrawled numbers and calculations related to the Maya calendar and planet and moon cycles.
Hurst is a 1997 Skidmore graduate who specializes in Maya art and teaches at the college. She uncovered the 1,200-year-old murals with a group of archaeologists in a small home located among the ruins of the 12-square-mile city of Xultun, which was home to many thousands of Maya between the first centuries B.C. and 890 A.D.
The Maya civilization created calendars using advanced math and astronomy. They predicted a final event based on the cosmos for Dec. 21, 2012, which has been interpreted in today's popular culture as the day the Maya believed the world will end. But Hurst, 36, says years of researching Maya sketches in Guatemala and Mexico has led her to believe that the date represents the end of an era for the Maya, not the end of time.
Photo by Tyrone Turner of National Geographic, via the TU.