Maya end of the world prophecy debunked again

Date:

Share post:

The Mayans clearly had a vision of the future: they predicted droughts and disease outbreaks and they even foresaw the mundane, like solar activity. What they didn’t predict: the end of the world.

Maya end of the world prophecy debunked again
A block from a staircase in Guatemala refers to the end of a particular subunit of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar — an event that has caused some to predict doomsday, something that researchers say is bunk [Credit: David Stuar]

Archaeologists, anthropologists and other experts who met in Mexico City last week to discuss the Mayan Long Count calendar, made up of 394-year periods, were the latest to debunk the so-called Mayan apocalypse, which predicts the end of the world on Dec. 21.

Experts estimate the system starts counting at 3114 B.C., and will have run through 13 baktuns, or 5,125 years, around Dec. 21. Experts say 13 was a significant number for the Mayans, and the end of that cycle would be a milestone — but not an end.

Fears that the calendar does point to the end have circulated in recent years. People in that camp believe the Maya may have been privy to impending astronomical disasters that would coincide with 2012, ranging from explosive storms on the surface of the sun that could knock out power grids to a galactic alignment that could trigger a reversal in Earth’s magnetic field.

Mexican government archaeologist Alfredo Barrera said Friday that the Mayas did prophesize, but perhaps about more humdrum events like droughts or disease outbreaks.

“The Mayas did make prophecies, but not in a fatalistic sense, but rather about events that, in their cyclical conception of history, could be repeated in the future,” said Barrera, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Experts stressed that the ancient Mayas, whose “classic” culture of writing, astronomy and temple complexes flourished from A.D. 300 to 900, were extremely interested in future events, far beyond Dec. 21.

“There are many ancient Maya monuments that discuss events far into the future from now,” wrote Geoffrey Braswell, an anthropologist at the University of California, San Diego. “The ancient Maya clearly believed things would happen far into the future from now.”

“The king of Palenque, K’inich Hanaab Pakal, believed he would return to the Earth a couple of thousand years from now in the future,” Braswell wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Moreover, other monuments discuss events even before the creation in 3114 B.C.”

Only a couple of references to the 2012 date equivalency have been found carved in stone at Mayan sites, and neither refers to an apocalypse, experts say.

Such apocalyptic visions have been common for more than 1,000 years in Western, Christian thinking, and are not native to Mayan thought.

“This is thinking that, in truth, has nothing to do with Mayan culture,” said Alexander Voss, an anthropologist at the University Of Quintana Roo, a state on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. “This thing about looking for end-times is not something that comes from Mayan culture.”

Braswell compared the Mayan calendar, with its system of cycles within cycles, to the series of synchronized wheels contained in old, analogue car odometers.

“The Maya long count system is like a car odometer,” Braswell wrote. “My first car (odometer) only had six wheels so it went up to 99,999.9 miles. That didn’t mean the car would explode after reaching 100,000 miles.”

Source: The Associated Press [December 04, 2012]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Testing indicates ‘Jesus’s wife gospel’ is ancient

A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, "Jesus said to them,...

Stolen Mayan artifacts returned to Guatemala

It didn’t take Indiana Jones to crack the case, but what federal agents recovered would have been right...

The medieval mystery of Nine Men's Morris at Creswell Crags in Derbyshire

When archaeologists working through the Victorian spoil heaps at Creswell Crags in 2006 uncovered a stone with a...

Facebook concept used by sixteenth century scholars

Our obsession with social networking is not exclusive to the 21st century, according to researchers from Royal Holloway...

10,000-year-old spear retrieved from submerged prehistoric camp site

Archaeologists hope a major find in a spring an hour and a half south of Tampa helps piece...

Lebanon dig yields lead plate used to invoke spirits of the dead

An excavation team from Kyoto University working in Lebanon has found a lead plate believed to date from...

New technique for finding weakness in Earth’s crust

Scientists have developed a method to estimate weakness in Earth's outer layers which will help explain and predict...

Project to map ancient landscape of England

The School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford is to compile a map of prehistoric England for...