2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse
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Did the Maya really predict that the world would end in December of 2012? If not, how and why has 2012 millenarianism gained such popular appeal? In this deeply knowledgeable book, two leading historians of the Maya answer these questions in a succinct, readable, and accessible style. Matthew Restall and Amara Solari introduce, explain, and ultimately demystify the 2012 phenomenon. They begin by briefly examining the evidence for the prediction of the world's end in ancient Maya texts and images, analyzing precisely what Maya priests did and did not prophesize. The authors then convincingly show how 2012 millenarianism has roots far in time and place from Maya cultural traditions, but in those of medieval and Early Modern Western Europe. Revelatory any myth-busting, while remaining firmly grounded in historical fact, this fascinating book will be essential reading as the countdown to December 21, 2012, begins.
near future. Fourth, another thread of intellectual speculation—primarily identifiable as New Age and spiritualist thinking—latched on to the Maya as a source of ancient wisdom. We return later (in chapter 6) to the New Age and spiritualist branch of 2012ology, the 2012 Gnostics (as Aveni calls them). For now, our interest is in how such writers have combined Maya sources with astronomy to advance 2012 ideas. For example, in 1987 JoseÁrguelles helped organize an international ‘‘Harmonic
dawn), as well as fringe threads such as that of backup cataclysms. The chapter wraps up the evidence and arguments made in the preceding pages while also offering a brief summary of why the 2012 phenomenon has acquired such traction, and why, in human societies in general, there have been tendencies to embrace end-ofworld predictions and fears. In the end, do we unlock the mystery of 2012? Are we able to decode the secrets contained within ancient Maya wisdom, or the cosmic code of planetary
significantly—engaging in penitent rituals. Across the small room, the murals on the opposite wall are opposite in intention (figure 27). Here, the scene is not one of peaceful respite but instead is imbued with violence. Less legible than the left wall, the right wall still clearly depicts a troubled landscape. Redskinned beings appear to beat objects with long poles. Like the idyllic scene across the room, this violent action seems to take place in the Yucatan, as similar trees have been
maize (corn)—humans were made from maize, the crop that therefore sustains us. In the contexts of the Long Count and creation mythology, the Tortuguero monument might be read as predicting that December 21, 2012, is the great milestone day, that the end of the great cycle will be accompanied by the next destruction of the world. Other ancient sites—some have argued—seem to support this impression, through the alignment of their buildings or through the artistic metaphors on their monuments or by
evidence that the Tortuguero text was in part a building dedication, Jenkins observed that the Maya viewed ‘‘house’’ and ‘‘cosmos’’ as metaphorically linked. The point, broadly speaking, is valid and interesting, but sometimes a building is just a building. The Maya prediction of the world’s end is based on their Long Count cycle. Without the Long Count, there is no 2012. We introduced the Long Count briefly in the previous chapter, but to analyze the 2012 evidence fully, four aspects of this