Monday, May 23, 2011

Apocalypse, Now and Then

So... Saturday came and went with no Rapture unless you count the usual, customary, reasonable and quite normal pleasures of the flesh we all indulge in on Saturdays, especially Saturday nights.  So, it's one down and one to go... with the next predicted end-o'-the world due to occur on 12/21/2012.  Or so says the Mayan calendar according to some people who have trouble distinguishing their ass from their elbow.  We've all read THAT, right?  I know I have but what I haven't read... beyond the "harrumphs" and  "bullshit!" exclamations from people who can tell their asses and elbows apart... is a well-reasoned refutation of the Mayan calendar apocalypse cranks.  Until now.  From the WSJ:
Like the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples, the Maya followed not one calendar but two, a 365-day civic one they called the ha'b and a 260-day religious almanac known as the tzolk'in; running independently, the two synchronized about every 52 years. The Maya also maintained the so-called Long Count, an unbroken tally of days stretching back to (in our calendar) Aug. 11, 3114 B.C., a day that was thought to mark the day of creation, just as our own reckoning begins with the birth of Christ.

For the Maya, Dec. 21, 2012, would have been a red-letter date, the completion of a 144,000-day (or nearly 400-year) period called a bak'tun, and it would have been marked with ceremonies presided over by their kings. But the milestone—known as " 4 Ahaw 3 K'ank'in" on the Long Count calendar—would not have signaled the end of the world. Rather, it would have heralded the beginning of a new bak'tun, a resetting of the cosmic odometer analogous to the one we marked on January 1, 2000.

Out of the thousands of known Maya inscriptions, " 4 Ahaw 3 K'ank'in" appears in exactly one—as a simple mention with no dire undertones. Moreover, Mr. Stuart suggests that the Maya computed dates nearly 72 octillion years into the future—that's 72 followed by 27 zeros—by which time, modern scientists tell us, the universe will have ended for real. Such extended calculations seem an unlikely pursuit for a people who expected the apocalypse to arrive long, long before.
Well, so much for the latest apocalyptic prediction, as if ya actually needed a noted scholar and archaeologist to refute the conspiracy stuff.  But it helps.


  1. I thought everybody knew this. But, maybe not. I've got Mayan kinfolks, so not everybody understands the bak'tun like me, I guess.

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  3. Hi Buck, while I was in Cozumel, I spoke with a fella who worked on one of the glass bottom boats at the resort. On Cozumel, there are a lot of Mayan folks from Yucatan, working and sending money back to their families. We had a lovely conversation which happened to include why did the Mayan calendar end and what did it mean? His explanation: That the ancient Mayans believed that their race (of pure Mayan descent) would be extinct by 2012 due to interbreeding with the outsiders i.e. the Spaniards and later by the English. The Mayans would still exist, but there would be no more pure blooded Mayans left by the end of 2012. I haven't substantiated his claim but he was adamant that this explanation was what had been handed down through his family for generations. Taken with a grain of salt - but I thought the explanation was interesting!

  4. Men plan, and God laughs.

  5. Buck, where can I find a few young comely Mayan Virgins to "sacrifice" to the Fertility Gods so as to ward off this coming catastrophe?

  6. I don't think the Mayan calendar makers really cared about the far in the future stuff. They probably just ran out of room carving on that particular rock.

    Bseides, there was some live hearts to be cut out of victim chests happening later on that afternoon!

  7. Andy: Heh. Yeah, I thought I was down with the bak'tun, but I didn't know this. Imagine my surprise.

    Alison: That's an interesting take on things. I didn't think there were any "pure" Mayans left.

    Lou: Too true.

    Darryl: If they didn't care about the future, why did they calculate dates all the way out to 72 followed by 27 zeros years?

    Virgil: Blogger hates you. You wound up in my spam folder yet again. As for the virgins... good luck with THAT. They're pretty rare in this neck o' the woods.

  8. But, what were the Mayans going to do with their pets?

  9. I don't think ya wanna know, Moogie, based on their track record with virgins and such.


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