By Vijay Shah
An image from a Facebook fan page in Pakistan – will 2012 be the dusk of civilisation?
It is the last month of 2012 and the twelfth year of the 21st century is on its final couple of weeks. A new year and a new calendar on the wall beckons, but according to some people, I need not bother with the 2013 calendar, as apparently the world will end on the 21st December. So I guess Christmas is going to get cancelled. Very disappointing.
Conspiracy theorists aided and abetted by all manners of crud-stirrers and internet nutjobs have claimed that an ancient Mayan prediction will see the Earth and its inhabitants obliterated, with some enthusing that we will be in a very messy collision with a wandering planet named Nibiru. That is highly unlikely as anything even approaching the size of a clumsy rogue planet would have been spotted by astronomers and we would all be panicking by now. Others claim that the only hope for humanity in these final days is to move to the French village of Pic de Bugarach, where an extra-terrestrial spaceship will emerge out of a nearby mountain and rescue anyone in the village. So many unfortunates have bought into that particular possibility that a local hotel owner is renting out rooms for thousands of euros a night and the local police have warned that they will arrest anyone who lands at Bugarach in a light aircraft.
The popularity of a planetary demise at the hands of lost worlds or extreme geological and weather conditions has even turned over a few million dollars profit for the Hollywood producers of the film 2012. Directed by Roland Emmerich, we see the United States torn up by massive quakes and tornadoes, while California falls into the sea and India is swallowed by a mega-tsunami that engulfs even the Himalayas.
The Mayans of Mexico were once at the helm of one of the most advanced civilisations of the Americas in pre-Columbian times. They were on parity with the classical European and Asian polities in their observations of the stars, their art and had an highly advanced and intricate calendar system.
They developed a calendar made up of various forms of temporal measurement, of which is described below:
With the development of the place-notational Long Count calendar (believed to have been inherited from other Mesoamerican cultures), the Maya had an elegant system with which events could be recorded in a linear relationship to one another, and also with respect to the calendar (“linear time”) itself. In theory, this system could readily be extended to delineate any length of time desired, by simply adding to the number of higher-order place markers used (and thereby generating an ever-increasing sequence of day-multiples, each day in the sequence uniquely identified by its Long Count number). In practice, most Maya Long Count inscriptions confine themselves to noting only the first five coefficients in this system (a b’ak’tun-count), since this was more than adequate to express any historical or current date (20 b’ak’tuns cover 7,885 solar years). Even so, example inscriptions exist which noted or implied lengthier sequences, indicating that the Maya well understood a linear (past-present-future) conception of time.
Therefore according to the Mayan Long Count method, one of the baktuns will end precisely on 21st December and that is when we best start saying our precious goodbyes.
Yet the Mayan culture and religion did not prophesies any cataclysmic destruction of our world. They simply needed to restart their calendar. All this fuss about Doomsday in December is partly due to unskilled commentators lacking any proper understanding of the Meso-American mindset and ascribing eschatological perception grounded in Abrahamic religions which are very different from Mayan beliefs. Even modern Mayan scholars have come out to reassure the public that there is no cause for alarm.
It is very unlikely the world would stop spinning or disintegrate into comet fodder come the 21st. Yes the Earth will not be around forever. In 5 billion years’ time, the Sun will have expanded into a red giant and possibly swallow the planet or at the very least turn it into a giant hookah coal, but if humanity or its descendants exist by then we will have become so technologically advanced that we will have moved to Nibiru ages ago.
Nothing major will happen when the date reads 21/12/2012. So re-book your New Year’s dinner, get off the internet and stop hoarding tins of butter beans. If we are really all going to die, then let’s die smiling!! 🙂
RELATED NEWS FROM ZEMANTA
- Photos: Mayan calendar – December 21, 2012, End of the World? (photos.mercurynews.com)
- December 21: Mayan apocalypse believer camps out at French doomsday mountain (telegraph.co.uk)
- Countdown to Mayan apocalypse on December 21 (geneveith.com)
- Mayan prophecy sparks dread, celebration worldwide (sacbee.com)
- Mayan Apocalypse: Panic as Fears Grow the World Will End December 21 When Mayan Calendar Stops (themoderatevoice.com)
- I’m Confused.com: Will the world end in 2012? (confused.com)
- Mayan scholar refutes Dec. 21 apocalypse prediction (newsfixnow.com)
- Mayan apocalypse: Vatican says ‘the end is not nigh – for now’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Mayan apocalypse: panic spreads as December 21 nears (pakalertpress.com)
- The 21st century Noah: Chinese man blows £100,000 life savings on building an ark to ‘escape the impending Mayan apocalypse’ (ascendingstarseed.wordpress.com)
Many thanks to Sheik Atchia for liking the picture and being the inspiration of this article
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“Maya calendar” – Wikipedia LINK