Is 2012 the end of the world? A new Mayan text says absolutely not. While apocalyptic predictions will abound throughout the year, archaeologists have proof that the world won’t end in 2012.
Archaeologists digging at the site of an ancient Mayan city in Guatemala have unearthed a 1,300-year-old Mayan text that includes the second known reference to the dreaded “end date” of the Mayan calendar (also known as December 21, 2012). Archaeologists presented their findings at the National Palace in Guatemala on Thursday.
“This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy,” says Marcello Canuto, director of Tulane’s Middle American Research Institute, in a press statement. Canuto and Tomas Barrientos of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala have been in charge of the archaeological dig at La Corona since 2008. In the past, La Corona has been defiled by looters.
“Last year, we realized that looters of a particular building had discarded some carved stones because they were too eroded to sell on the antiquities black market,” said Barrientos, “so we knew they found something important, but we also thought they might have missed something.”
The find was announced this past week by Guatemalan and U.S. archaeologists who explained that they uncovered the stone last April at a dig being worked by students from Guatemala’s Universidad Del Valle, Tulane and the University of Texas.
Canuto and Barrientos stumbled upon the longest text ever uncovered in Guatemala. The Mayan text is carved on staircase steps and details approximately 200 years of La Corona history, notes David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
Stuart was the first to see the 2012 reference in the Mayan text. He says it was carved on a stairway block that features 56 carefully carved hieroglyphs. The archaeologist say that the Mayan text chronicled a visit to the Mayan city in AD 696 by Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ of Calakmul. The Mayan ruler was visiting allies and reasserting his power after being defeated by Tikal in AD 695.
The Maya Long Count calendar is divided into bak’tuns, or 144,000-day cycles that begin at the Maya creation date. The winter solstice of 2012 (Dec. 21) is the last day of the 13th bak’tun, marking what the Maya people would have seen as a full cycle of creation, according to scientists.
“This was a time of great political turmoil in the Mayan region and this king felt compelled to allude to a larger cycle of time that happens to end in 2012,” says Stuart.
The archaeologists say that the 2012 reference is not an apocalyptic prediction, but an attempt to restore stability by explaining the Mayan king’s shaky reign in the context of something much larger.
“In times of crisis, the ancient Mayan used their calendar to promote continuity and stability rather than predict apocalypse,” says Canuto.
The “end date” of December 21, 2012 is not actually the end of the Mayan calendar. In fact, the “end date” is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then another long-count period starts for the Mayan calendar on December 22, 2012.
In December 2011, NASA also weighed in on the question of whether 2012 is the beginning of the end. Citing Y2K as a similar example, space agency officials said that the “end date” will generate a lot of fanfare, but that 2012 will come and go just like any other year.
“Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012,” scientists said as part of a question and answer session.
NASA also noted that there are no threats to Earth or happenings in space that could end the world as we know it in December. Furthermore, the space agency cautioned that if unusual planetary alignments were to occur, the impacts on the Earth would be “negligible.”