Did the Mayans REALLY predict a doomsday event?

2012, Earth

No Doomsday in 2012

19 May , 2008 by

Apparently, the world is going to end on December 21st, 2012. Yes, you read correctly, in some way, shape or form, the Earth (or at least a large portion of humans on the planet) will cease to exist. Stop planning your careers, don’t bother buying a house, and be sure to spend the last years of your life doing something you always wanted to do but never had the time. Now you have the time, four years of time, to enjoy yourselves before… the end.

So what is all this crazy talk? We’ve all heard these doomsday predictions before, we’re still here, and the planet is still here, why is 2012 so important? Well, the Mayan calendar stops at the end of the year 2012, churning up all sorts of religious, scientific, astrological and historic reasons why this calendar foretells the end of life as we know it. The Mayan Prophecy is gaining strength and appears to be worrying people in all areas of society. Forget Nostradamus, forget the Y2K bug, forget the credit crunch, this event is predicted to be huge and many wholeheartedly believe this is going to happen for real. Planet X could even be making a comeback.

Related 2012 articles:

For all those 2012 Mayan Prophecy believers out there, I have bad news. There is going to be no doomsday event in 2012, and here’s why…

The extent of the Mayan empire

The Mayan Calendar
So what is the Mayan Calendar? The calendar was constructed by an advanced civilization called the Mayans around 250-900 AD. Evidence for the Maya empire stretches around most parts of the southern states of Mexico and reaches down to the current geological locations of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and some of Honduras. The people living in Mayan society exhibited very advanced written skills and had an amazing ability when constructing cities and urban planning. The Mayans are probably most famous for their pyramids and other intricate and grand buildings. The people of Maya had a huge impact on Central American culture, not just within their civilization, but with other indigenous populations in the region. Significant numbers of Mayans still live today, continuing their age-old traditions.

The Mayans used many different calendars and viewed time as a meshing of spiritual cycles. While the calendars had practical uses, such as social, agricultural, commercial and administrative tasks, there was a very heavy religious element. Each day had a patron spirit, signifying that each day had specific use. This contrasts greatly with our modern Gregorian calendar which primarily sets the administrative, social and economic dates.

Venus Express observation of Venus (ESA)

Most of the Mayan calendars were short. The Tzolk’in calendar lasted for 260 days and the Haab’ approximated the solar year of 365 days. The Mayans then combined both the Tzolk’in and the Haab’ to form the “Calendar Round”, a cycle lasting 52 Haab’s (around 52 years, or the approximate length of a generation). Within the Calendar Round were the trecena (13 day cycle) and the veintena (20 day cycle). Obviously, this system would only be of use when considering the 18,980 unique days over the course of 52 years. In addition to these systems, the Mayans also had the “Venus Cycle”. Being keen and highly accurate astronomers they formed a calendar based on the location of Venus in the night sky. It’s also possible they did the same with the other planets in the Solar System.

Using the Calendar Round is great if you simply wanted to remember the date of your birthday or significant religious periods, but what about recording history? There was no way to record a date older than 52 years.

The end of the Long Count = the end of the Earth?
The Mayans had a solution. Using an innovative method, they were able to expand on the 52 year Calendar Round. Up to this point, the Mayan Calendar may have sounded a little archaic – after all, it was possibly based on religious belief, the menstrual cycle, mathematical calculations using the numbers 13 and 20 as the base units and a heavy mix of astrological myth. The only principal correlation with the modern calendar is the Haab’ that recognised there were 365 days in one solar year (it’s not clear whether the Mayans accounted for leap years). The answer to a longer calendar could be found in the “Long Count”, a calendar lasting 5126 years.

I’m personally very impressed with this dating system. For starters, it is numerically predictable and it can accurately pinpoint historical dates. However, it depends on a base unit of 20 (where modern calendars use a base unit of 10). So how does this work?

The base year for the Mayan Long Count starts at “0.0.0.0.0”. Each zero goes from 0-19 and each represent a tally of Mayan days. So, for example, the first day in the Long Count is denoted as 0.0.0.0.1. On the 19th day we’ll have 0.0.0.0.19, on the 20th day it goes up one level and we’ll have 0.0.0.1.0. This count continues until 0.0.1.0.0 (about one year), 0.1.0.0.0 (about 20 years) and 1.0.0.0.0 (about 400 years). Therefore, if I pick an arbitrary date of 2.10.12.7.1, this represents the Mayan date of approximately 1012 years, 7 months and 1 day.

This is all very interesting, but what has this got to do with the end of the world? The Mayan Prophecy is wholly based on the assumption that something bad is going to happen when the Mayan Long Count calendar runs out. Experts are divided as to when the Long Count ends, but as the Maya used the numbers of 13 and 20 at the root of their numerical systems, the last day could occur on 13.0.0.0.0. When does this happen? Well, 13.0.0.0.0 represents 5126 years and the Long Count started on 0.0.0.0.0, which corresponds to the modern date of August 11th 3114 BC. Have you seen the problem yet? The Mayan Long Count ends 5126 years later on December 21st, 2012.

Doomsday
When something ends (even something as innocent as an ancient calendar), people seem to think up the most extreme possibilities for the end of civilization as we know it. A brief scan of the internet will pull up the most popular to some very weird ways that we will, with little logical thought, be wiped off the face of the planet. Archaeologists and mythologists on the other hand believe that the Mayans predicted an age of enlightenment when 13.0.0.0.0 comes around; there isn’t actually much evidence to suggest doomsday will strike. If anything, the Mayans predict a religious miracle, not anything sinister.

Myths are abound and seem to be fuelling movie storylines. It looks like the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is even based around the Mayan myth that 13 crystal skulls can save humanity from certain doom. This myth says that if the 13 ancient skulls are not brought together at the right time, the Earth will be knocked off its axis. This might be a great plotline for blockbuster movies, but it also highlights the hype that can be stirred, lighting up religious, scientific and not-so-scientific ideas that the world is doomed.

Could an asteroid wipe out the Earth? (NASA)

Some of the most popular space-based threats to the Earth and mankind focus on Planet X wiping most life off the planet, meteorite impacts, black holes, killer solar flares, Gamma Ray Bursts from star systems, a rapid ice age and a polar (magnetic) shift. There is so much evidence against these things happening in 2012, it’s shocking just how much of a following they have generated. Each of the above “threats” needs their own devoted article as to why there is no hard evidence to support the hype.

But the fact remains, the Mayan Doomsday Prophecy is purely based on a calendar which we believe hasn’t been designed to calculate dates beyond 2012. Mayan archaeo-astronomers are even in debate as to whether the Long Count is designed to be reset to 0.0.0.0.0 after 13.0.0.0.0, or whether the calendar simply continues to 20.0.0.0.0 (approximately 8000 AD) and then reset. As Karl Kruszelnicki brilliantly writes:

…when a calendar comes to the end of a cycle, it just rolls over into the next cycle. In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So 13.0.0.0.0 in the Mayan calendar will be followed by 0.0.0.0.1 – or good-ol’ 22 December 2012, with only a few shopping days left to Christmas.” – Excerpt from Dr Karl’s “Great Moments in Science“.

Sources: Dr Karl’s Great Moments in Science, IHT, 2012 Wiki

Leading image credits: MIT (supernova simulation), WikiMedia (Mayan pyramid Chichen Itza). Effects and editing: myself.

By  
[Follow me on Twitter (@astroengine)] [Check out my space blog: Astroengine.com] [Check out my radio show: Astroengine Live!] Hello! My name is Ian O'Neill and I've been writing for the Universe Today since December 2007. I am a solar physics doctor, but my space interests are wide-ranging. Since becoming a science writer I have been drawn to the more extreme astrophysics concepts (like black hole dynamics), high energy physics (getting excited about the LHC!) and general space colonization efforts. I am also heavily involved with the Mars Homestead project (run by the Mars Foundation), an international organization to advance our settlement concepts on Mars. I also run my own space physics blog: Astroengine.com, be sure to check it out!


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Fraser Cain
Admin
October 31, 2008 8:59 AM

At the time I’m writing this, there were 2400+ comment on this article. Loading up this page was crashing my webserver, so I’ve had to move the comments to a different page. If you’re interested in looking at the comments, you can access them here.

http://www.universetoday.com/2008/05/18/comments-on-no-doomsday-in-2012/

If you want to continue commenting on this article, please do it in the forum, which is better able to handle a lot of comments.

http://www.bautforum.com/universe-today-story-comments/74312-no-doomsday-2012-a.html

Sergio Rockaz
Guest
May 12, 2011 12:04 PM
Sergio Rockaz
Guest
May 12, 2011 12:05 PM
Joel Williams
Guest
May 12, 2011 8:42 PM

Yeeeeaaahhhh’NNO!! I personally believe in Jesus Christ. The Earth & AAAAAALL of humanity will end only, if it’s His will! That’s my story & I’m stick’n 2 it!! J…

Joel Williams
Guest
May 12, 2011 10:49 PM

Yeeaaahhhh’NNO!! That’s God’s decision. Not a buncha goofy people dressed in Halloween costumes.

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
May 17, 2011 1:43 AM

ghod’s decision — This viewpoint of yours reflects much the same ‘we are superior to you because of our ghod” superstitious mind set as the Mayan POV, are you sure you don’t want to actually think about what you just said.

Halloween costumes aside did you read the actual article — comprehending all the words, if there were any you needed help with, let me know.

Mary

Rian Tan
Guest
May 13, 2011 5:19 AM

where did you get that photo. And how are you guys so sure that that is going to happen..

WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
May 15, 2011 8:59 PM

Which photo are you referring here, there are several. Each has a link to the image as a single jpg, The names of the images are suggestive or descriptive. You might want to check the specific image you need information for and give us the name it was assigned when it was created as a link in these UT pages.

Anas Alazzawi
Guest
May 13, 2011 11:18 PM

stupied noobs fake!

Koowie
Guest
Koowie
May 14, 2011 4:27 PM

So who’s right? The world will end in 2012 or October 21st? I think both are hooey btw.

André Jolicoeur
Guest
André Jolicoeur
May 15, 2011 2:30 AM
It’s interesting to see how people are so excited by SPECTACULAR ways in which we could die… while in fact, a great many of us die everyday simply from old age, disease, hunger, suicide, war, accidents. IMHO this reveals our overly materialistic thoughts. We dream/fear of SPECTACULAR events, when we really just need to look at the truly impressive things around us: love, friendship, compassion. There wouldn’t be such a fascination for doomsday prophecies if we were living along healthy (spiritual) inner values. Death just wouldn’t seem such a big issue anymore. Isn’t it, after all, the ONLY 100% predictable thing in our lives? A very trivial thing, really. A little sooner or a little later, but we… Read more »
Colbert Bellevue
Guest
May 21, 2011 12:39 AM

Hi André ,
You have made a very interesting point. I hope millions, if not billions of people, would think just like you on the issue of “doomsday event” whereby numerous people the world over seem to fear specular events, as you have indicated. Our human concentration should be focused on love for one aother, friendship, all around humanity.
Colbert Bellevue

Paul Baillio
Guest
May 15, 2011 4:36 PM
I, as well as a lady where I work, have both had an experience where we see the numerals “1111” quite frequently. I thought it was some sort of coincidence, both of us having the same experience. Turns out the mystic, Uri Geller, has had the same happen to him. Then, watching TV on National Geographic, a program about 2012, one of the so-called “survivalists” mentioned that he did not know where, but he had a vision about a portal in time open somewhere, he didn’t know the location, that would allow people to pass thru into another dimension, thus surviving whatever. I, of course, was amused until he said “I have had a vision of the time,… Read more »
WaxyMary
Member
WaxyMary
May 15, 2011 8:48 PM

It is possibly to you that your experiences as you relate them and as they have occurred over time to actually be reinforcing a common, central tenet you hold. In other words, are you not stating a conclusion based on self held tenets rather than dispassionate observation wherein you are not the experiment but the experimenter.

Ivan3man_At_Large
Member
Ivan3man_At_Large
May 15, 2011 11:14 PM

More likely, it’s probably because you and your lady friend have been reading too many 2012 Doomsday blogs/posts by nutters who make excessive use of the exclamation mark and interspersed with number ones at the end of their sentences, like so: !!!1111!!

Vikas S
Guest
Vikas S
May 18, 2011 5:16 AM

Paul
i am also getting the same numbers 11:11 quite frequently and now i am confident its no coincidence. i know there is shift in consciousness, a subtle change, in near future and it could be the date that everyone is talking about. i am clam, collected and waiting but lil scared too smile

love

Vikas S
Guest
Vikas S
May 18, 2011 5:16 AM

Paul
i am also getting the same numbers 11:11 quite frequently and now i am confident its no coincidence. i know there is shift in consciousness, a subtle change, in near future and it could be the date that everyone is talking about. i am clam, collected and waiting but lil scared too smile

love

James Howard
Guest
May 19, 2011 12:20 PM

typical americans thinking the world will end in 2012, you guys need to stop being so arrogant and look things up, and god doesnt ant man to know when the world will end cause of this exact crap what you are talking about

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 8:06 AM
You, James Howard, are sounding like the typical non-American and blaming everything on Americans. In your ‘exhaustive’ research, what is the largest organization profiting and spreading this 2012 garbage? Ever hear of the Oneness Movement? Try a search. Find the Oneness University website. Take a look at the history part under the About Us heading. That building at the bottom… less then 8 years to build and is the centerpiece of a complex spanning several thousand acres. These guys have ‘campuses’ across the world. Their charging scheme keeps changing, but they are making insane amounts of cash. Oh, the founders of this group are from India and are based in India. I will let you find their references… Read more »
proudlyabrit
Guest
proudlyabrit
May 22, 2011 12:38 PM

If you do YOUR research, you will actually find that the internet was a British invention, but you probably think that the car was invented by Henry Ford, too. FYI, there have been more earth-changing inventions/discoveries from that tiny dot of real estate off the coast of Europe than any other country. They just generally couldn;t afford to develop them.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 6:52 AM
To Paul and Vikas. Check the calender. Notice which decade this is? Of course you are seeing the numeral 1 often. Oh no… the number 11! Take a look at how clocks are organized. The numeral 1 appears more often because we have 10am, 11am, 12am. Take a look at calender days. How many months have 31 days? Oh no! 1 again! Pope Gregory XIII (LOOK! More 1 lookalikes!) must have secretly been a Mayan priest who used the force to transport himself through a time loop riding a Delorian made of cosmic energy. Also, Leet (or “1337”) uses 1, i, l, almost interchangeably, so you see them everywhere. Ever hear of binary? Saying that you see 1s… Read more »
andrew obrien
Guest
andrew obrien
May 17, 2011 1:17 AM

i agree with him

andrew obrien
Guest
andrew obrien
May 17, 2011 1:17 AM

i agree with him

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 17, 2011 3:29 AM
ok so what if this really happens so what! there has been so many good things happen in the past and bad as well if this does happen i am going to sit out side with a 12 pack of beer on my front law why because there is nothing that i can do to stop it so why worry about it why get all crazy and nothing happen like i said i am going to liv my life day by day because i can die tomorrow for all i no i live in the moment now a year or 2 out im sorry thats just who i am thats the person i am. but it cool that… Read more »
anna calvert
Guest
anna calvert
May 17, 2011 4:16 PM

im 12 years old and my grandparents have come over to visit.
im not new to this subject but i was having a conversation with them about me going on holiday with my parents in 2012.they laughed and said”i guess your not coming back then!”. i asked them what they meant and they told me about the world ending.

my grandparents are big heads!! i hate them!!
i told them if they had ever heard of the saying “when pigs fly!!”

just think about it!!

shaleed tonge
Guest
shaleed tonge
May 20, 2011 2:38 PM

Hatred is a sin…speek wisley

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 7:25 AM

IM SURE YOU SIN YOUR PROBABLY A WHOLE LOT OLDER THAN HER SO THAT MEANS YOUV SINNED A MILLION TIMES MORE THAN SHE CAN IMAGINE RIGHT NOW.

Potatoswatter
Guest
May 22, 2011 8:10 PM

WENSLEYDALE! NARF.

Potatoswatter
Guest
May 22, 2011 8:10 PM

WENSLEYDALE! NARF.

shaleed tonge
Guest
shaleed tonge
May 20, 2011 2:38 PM

Hatred is a sin…speek wisley

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 7:24 AM

DID YOU NOT READ THAT SHE IS A 12 YR ODL WHO WAS TOLD SHE IS GOING TO DIE WHILE SHE IS AWAY WITH HER PARENTS? GIVE IT A REST WITH THE HOLY LESSONS PEOPLE.. SHEESH.. SHES A CHILD NOT THE DEVIL… YOUR SUPPOSED TO TEACH NOT SCOLD…

anna calvert
Guest
anna calvert
May 17, 2011 4:19 PM

WHEN PIGS FLY!

Haley
Guest
Haley
May 18, 2011 8:18 PM

AHAHA lol thats true! i bet sometime in this millenium theyll learn how to make pigs fly.. i can garuntee it. lol

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 7:28 AM

NO YOU CANT “GARUNTEE IT”

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 7:27 AM

IT MIGHT HAPPEN SOME DAY ANNA BUT NOT ANY TIME SOON, AT LEAST I HOPE… DONT LISTEN TO ALL THIS STUFF… ITS JUST PEOPLE WHO HAVE GOT TOO MUCH TIME IN THEIR HANDS, INCLUDING MY SELF AT THE MOMENT BECAUSE I CAN NOT SLEEP.

anna calvert
Guest
anna calvert
May 17, 2011 4:20 PM

LOOK IF WE DIE WE DIE WHAT CAN WE DO??

anna calvert
Guest
anna calvert
May 17, 2011 4:21 PM

if this is going to happeni will die with my dog

i would rather die than my dog.

kkamalpreetkaur
Guest
kkamalpreetkaur
May 17, 2011 10:48 PM

Zoo- Wee MAMA!!

Courtney
Guest
Courtney
May 18, 2011 5:44 AM

Sorry but i believe that someday, whether it would be decades from now or weeks, there will come a judgement day. I don’t believe in how people are trying to predict when it will happen and how it will and what exactly will happen, but I feel that if it were meant to be known it would have been written in the bible.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 20, 2011 11:28 PM

It obviously isn’t meant to be known when is says in Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 21, 2011 12:16 AM

because anything that wasn’t written in the bible isn’t true. anyone that says differently is fucking wrong and stupid. the bible is the one and only provider of wisdom knowledge and morality. right?

Courtney
Guest
Courtney
May 18, 2011 5:47 AM

Alsothis isn’t the first time there has been a doomsday scare. 1988,1994 Y2K, These dates ar all just opinions

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
May 20, 2011 3:59 PM

y2k was not the end of the world, it was where the computer systems were all going to crash, yea it would cause panic and many issues. such as personal info would be lost and bank info but it was certainly not predicted to be the end of the world. i am not sure how i feel on all these new predictions, as a mother of one and another on the way i would like to think my kids and i could spend alot more time together, but yes it is scary!!!

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