Experts met in Mexico City on Friday to discuss the significance of the Mayan Long Count calendar made up of 394-year periods. There are a total of thirteen 394-year periods included in the calendar. The end of the thirteen cycles comes around the 21st of December 2012. Some have taken that to mean that the Mayans were predicting the the world would end on or around that date. Experts disagree however.
A Christian Science Monitor
report states that 13 was a significant number for the Mayans, and the end of that cycle would indeed be considered a milestone, but it does not indicate that the world will come to an end.
According to Mayan-Calendar.com
, the number 13 was used as a symbolic way to say "completion." Texts found at Yaxchilan, Coba, and the Dresden Codex present long count dates which repeat the number 13 as their coefficients. The number 13 was used throughout the long calendar, and each "completion" did represent a "great change", but it did not signify the end of the world.
For example, in 830 AD the "completion" came at the end of the classic period and the still unexplained abandonment of 100's of cities. In 1224 AD it came with the abandonment of Chichen Itza in Yucatan and the rise of Mayapan. Both events signified great change and even a type of ending for the Mayan culture, but it did not come with the apocalyptic ending some have predicted for December 2012.
The ending of the Mayan long calender has created fears for some in recent years. SOme people believe the Maya may have been predicting some impending disaster. Theories of some astronomical disasters, 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, have all been mentioned.
One theory of a possible astronomical disaster is known as the Nibiru cataclysm
. Nibiru, also known as Planet X, is believed by some to be another planet within the Milky Way galaxy. Those that believe in Nibiru and the armageddon scenario believe a "disastrous encounter" between the Earth and Nibiru will cause the "Nibiru cataclysm".
Lorenzo DiTommaso, a Concordia University professor who teaches religion and studies global apocalypticism, believes he knows exactly what will happen on Dec. 21; absolutely nothing.
DiTommaso told the Montreal Gazette
the theory of impending doom "started picking up traction with the rise of the Internet and social media. It’s a popular apocalypse with millions of followers. The apocalypse is a way to see an end to the problems in the world that seem impossible.
A Reuters News
poll showed that 15 percent of the worlds population believed the world will end during their lifetime and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012.
DiTommaso states that
“the tragedy is time spent on an imaginary day of doom while they overlook the real apocalypse outside their kitchen windows in the form of the catastrophic degradation of the biosphere."
Alfredo Barrera, a Mexican government archaeologist said the Maya tried to make predictions, but they were more likely to be about more mundane events like droughts or disease outbreaks.
He told MSNBC News
"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."
A Fox News
report states there are only a couple of references to the 2012 date that have been found carved in stone at various Mayan sites. Neither of those finding refers to an apocalypse.
Geoffrey Braswell, an anthropologist at the University of California at San Diego made the following comparison
"The Maya long count system is like a car odometer. "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."