Stories tagged April Fool's Day

Apr
01
2014

Maya ball game: When disputes arose during Maya ball games, players would reenact the play in slow motion for officials to determine if they made the correct call.
Maya ball game: When disputes arose during Maya ball games, players would reenact the play in slow motion for officials to determine if they made the correct call.Courtesy anth2589
The new Major League Baseball season is underway with lots of hoopla about the expanded use by umpires of using instant replay to reconsider close or controversial calls during the course of a game. It’s all overshadowed some amazing archaeological findings in Central America, where stele art and cave paintings have confirmed that the Maya ball game was governed by its own set of replay rulings.

Independent teams of archaeologists from the University of Michigan and Stanford have found evidence that disputes in games were resolved by an elaborate replay system. First working independently, they’ve now combined their research into this extensive report, co-published in Science and Sports Illustrated this month.

Of course, video technology was many centuries away in the future. But Maya ingenuity figured out a way to get around that hurdle in a creative fashion. Former Maya ball game players would position themselves around the field observing the actions of their contemporaries. If a controversial play occurred and a coach threw out his challenge marker, the former players would rely on their keen observation and game skills to reenact the play at a slower motion for officials to take a second or third look. According to limited data collected in the findings, officials’ calls were overturned about 36 percent of the time.

Key clue: Heiroglyphs and art on this pot helped researchers figure out that instant replay was a key part of Maya ball game officiating.
Key clue: Heiroglyphs and art on this pot helped researchers figure out that instant replay was a key part of Maya ball game officiating.Courtesy Loryn Leonard
Heiroglyphs explaining the process were careful to note how critical it was to get the calls correct in games, especially those at the highest level where the losing teams would be sacrificed. After three consecutive years of bad calls in championship games leading to the deaths of what should have been victorious players, the replay system was implemented.

Further causing the move to replay rulings was the large amount of wagers gamblers placed on the games each year at Chichen Itza, the Las Vegas of Maya cities. After that run of poor officiating, gambling leaders who had taken huge financial losses on the altered outcomes threatened ball game leaders with execution if they didn’t come up with a more just system of deciding calls.

Ha!
Ha!Courtesy Wikipedia
And looking at the infamous Maya calendar, the new replay system was put into effect on the Gregorian Calendar equivalent of April 1, 1414 BCE, exactly 1600 years ago today, April Fool’s Day 2014.!

Apr
01
2010

Scroll discovery: While paddling about on Lake Superior last summer, these two kayakers found more than just a pack of otters. They found some mysterious scrolls.
Scroll discovery: While paddling about on Lake Superior last summer, these two kayakers found more than just a pack of otters. They found some mysterious scrolls.Courtesy Wikipedia
Two kayakers skirting along the south shore of Lake Superior last summer were just trying to find a place to get out of a sudden rain burst. Little did they know that they’d soon make what could be considered the greatest archaeological discovery of the 21st Century.

While waiting out the storm inside a hollowed out cave along the rocky shores of Superior near Bayfield, Wisc., the kayakers decided to explore a little bit around their new shelter, they found a pile of five rolled up deer skins. The top two were pretty moldy and crumbled in their hands but the bottom three were intact and completely amazing. While the outer sides of the hides still had traces of deer hair on them, the inner sides were tanned to a very smooth surface and had mysterious symbols written on them.

The kayakers, 20-something guys who wish to remain anonymous as they were paddling the Lake Superior waters without the proper permits and licenses, tucked their new-found treasures into their kayaks and paddled back to their launch point. From there, they drove immediately to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. One of the kayakers was the former student of Dr. Jonathan Nordquist, a professor of linguistics at the college.

Messages from Vikings?: Initial analysis of "The Lake Superior Scrolls" show that they have no religious connotation, but appear to be epic tales of Viking adventures in the New World.
Messages from Vikings?: Initial analysis of "The Lake Superior Scrolls" show that they have no religious connotation, but appear to be epic tales of Viking adventures in the New World.Courtesy Wikipedia
Nordquist, who specializes in Scandinavian and other northern European languages, was stunned. There had always been this “side rumor” to the Kensington Runestone controversy that Viking explorers who traveled the Great Lakes had left other traces of their exploits. Unfurling “The Lake Superior Scrolls” – as they’re now being called – he found runic characters that were similar to those on the runestone, but not exactly the same. Carbon dating testing done on small sections of the corners of the scrolls found that they date back to about the year 1032, around the same time that Vikings were exploring the North American continent.

After cross-referencing runic writings found across the globe in England, Italy and Greece, Nordquist started to unravel the messages encoded on the Lake Superior Scrolls.

“Unlike the famous Dead Sea Scroll, the Lake Superior Scrolls seem to have no religious or spiritual context,” Nordquist is quoted in today’s edition of Science Illustrated, where the full findings of the discovery were announced. “Rather, they message seems to be the lyrics of song, probably sung while sailing the open waters.”

A Viking sailing song?: A linguist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth was quickly able to recognize that the characters on the scrolls were similar to Viking runes, often found on runestones around the globe.
A Viking sailing song?: A linguist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth was quickly able to recognize that the characters on the scrolls were similar to Viking runes, often found on runestones around the globe.Courtesy Wikipedia
Allowing for some differences between the original language and today’s English, here’s what Nordquist has translated a section of the first scroll to read:

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home

Ole Ole, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Ole Ole, oh baby
Me gotta go

“What’s absolutely fascinating is that this appears to be the earliest known version of ‘Louie, Louie’ the classic rock-and-roll song,” continued Nordquist. “And when you consider the instrumentation available to Viking musicians of that era, you can hear the root sounds of that classic song.”

An old, but effective, warrior: The text of Scroll 3 tells the tale Favre the Gray, an old but effective warrior who led Vikings to victory long after people thought he was capable. Notice the intimidating pink shoes he wears.
An old, but effective, warrior: The text of Scroll 3 tells the tale Favre the Gray, an old but effective warrior who led Vikings to victory long after people thought he was capable. Notice the intimidating pink shoes he wears.Courtesy Wikipedia
On scroll two, Nordquist has not been able to make a breakthrough with the completely different style of runic writing it carries. But the third scroll has even more fascinating information, he said.

“It appears to be an epic tale, the story of an old, but gallant warrior who led his fellow Vikings on many successful missions,” Nordquist said. “But this Viking, despite his age and graying hair, could just not decide if he’d be able to give up the Viking lifestyle. He would sit by the docks where his ship was tied up weighing the pros and cons of doing another conquest while all of his younger charges would encourage him to take on one more mission. But alas, the time passed to set the line-up of voyage. But while the supplies and weapons were being loaded on the ship, this grand old Viking – going by the name of ‘Favre the Gray’ on the scroll – changed his mind, boarded the ship and led another hugely successful mission while the displaced captain – Jackson the Younger – held a clipboard at the back of the ship.”

Further details on information gleaned from The Lake Superior Scrolls will not be made public until exactly a year from today….April Fool’s Day 2011.