efe-epaBy Zoilo Carrillo Mexico City

Stored away as a precious ancient treasure in a gallery of the National Anthropology Museum is Mexico's Mayan codex, the oldest legible manuscript of the Americas, whose drawings illustrate the prophecies made by stargazing Mayas from what they observed in the night sky.

Though for years some suspected the codex to be a fairly recent fake, the authenticity of this archaeological find was confirmed a short while ago: its 10 folios that served as a prophecy calendar were proved to have been created between the years 1120 and 1130 AD.

In an interview with EFE, Sofia Martinez, the co-curator and researcher of the exposition "Mayan Codex of Mexico: Link, Bridge and Witness," said that it is a calendar that interpreted how the Venus cycle affected the Earth and, once that was discerned, how to keep it happy "so it inflicted no damage on the world's social and natural environment."

For the Mayas, excellent observers of the heavens, Venus was a star with long light rays like dangerous lances.

That led the Mesoamerican cultures to think that "with those lances it could damage the universe," said the researcher of the National Coordination of Museums and Expositions of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

Venus could affect everything from agriculture to the different individuals of society.

"It could affect warriors, the aged, children and women. So the Mayas created those calendars in order to foretell the first appearance of the 'Great Star' and offer it sacrifices, often human sacrifices," Martinez said.

In order to predict when such misfortunes might occur, the Mesoamerican cultures had precise tables and records of when the most important planets would appear, as well as eclipses of the moon and sun associated with the Venus cycle.

"By means of observation, they knew when Venus would make its appearances and, in order to prevent anything untoward happening, they prepared their calendars and offerings," she said.

The illustrations in the folios show different deities like Death, Agricultural Fertility, Fire and many more.

These deities are shown in scenes of aggression and of sacrifice, perhaps all appearing together with a "captive, an outsider of non-Maya or non-Toltec ethnicity, or with the Sacred Tree, the Tree of Jade."