It’s the End of the World as We Know It?


If you’re reading this, the world didn’t end at the beginning of this infamous year. 2012 is a date shrouded in mystery, controversy and—some say—doooom. The concern began when books and movies started popping up with tie-ins to Mayan civilization and end-time prophecy. Perhaps the best known was the 2009 disaster film 2012 (which, though set in 2012, actually had nothing to do with the Maya or the significant date).

It seems that anyone with an opinion on the year and access to a keyboard (though not necessarily spell-check) is trying to cash in on the interest. John Major Jenkins, a Mayan scholar and author of The 2012 Story: The Myths, Fallacies, and Truth Behind the Most Intriguing Date in History, notes that “when the 2012 bug started to bite the mainstream press and many more books started to appear, I noticed that authors and the media were pulling the 2012 topic in predictably weird directions.”

Jenkins takes a refreshingly skeptical stance on the whole cottage industry of books and films surrounding 2012. “Mass media documentaries have lately gone in the direction of infotainment,” he writes, “and have frequently presented 2012 in the most salacious way, doing little justice to the topic.”

And annoying modern-day Mayas in the process, I might add. Jenkins represents the more academic Mayan scholars, but there are two other main groups interested in Mayan prophecy: the new agers and the pseudoscientists.


About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

6 Comments on It’s the End of the World as We Know It?

  1. I took several classes on Anawak archaeology/anthropology as an udergrad, one specifically on the Maya, and my professor addressed this nonsense. He told the class the very same thing the author of this post rightfully asserts: there is only one mention of 2012 (Stela 6 from Tortuguero) in all of the Maya sites that have been discovered, excavated, and studied; and there are several other sites with dates that extend beyond 2012. He also said that there is no evidence suggesting that the Maya gave 2012 any significant imporatance, including the inhabitants of Tortuguero.

    In addition, the Maya were not one unified group that shared the same beliefs across the board. There were numerous city-states that were often at odds with each other, so to say that the “Maya” did this, or the “Maya” said that, is to generalize and use a broad stroke to paint the varying groups into one static whole. It’s like saying, all “Americans” believe in the Apocalypse and Christ’s second coming.

    Not only that, but the Popul Vuh, which is used by these 2012 hacks and hucksters as proof of the coming new age, was specific to only one group of Maya, and not emblematic of the hundreds of others city-state polities and their beliefs. In fact, I think it was written post-invasion, so it could have some Spanish influence.

    Anyhow, it’s a shame that indigenous people have fallen for the lie and subscribe to the New Age nonsense.

  2. I also suggest a book called “2012 and the end of the world: the western roots of the Maya apocalypse,” which traces the origin of the 2012 nonsense to the millenarian beliefs of medieval europe. The book also does a great job of debunking the “Cortez as Ketzalkoatl” and “spaniards as gods” nonsense so prevalent in modern academia.

  3. That’s a Mathew Restall book that just came out last year. Haven’t had a chance to read it yet, thanx for the suggestion. Did you ever read his “Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest” (2004)? He also debunks the Cortez/Ketzalkoatl myth there too.

    The connection between 2012 and European millenarianism makes sense. It’s something that I have thought of as well. Now I want to read what Restall’s argument is.

  4. I just ordered “Seven Myths” yesterday, after I finished the 2012 book. It’s funny, because I never really gave an in-depth look at European Millenarianism, but it was the driving force behind a lot of the invasion. Those freaks were all members of a doomsday cult. The story of the so-called “Virgen de Guadalupe” was all wrapped up in that nonsense as well. Just more fodder for the new book!

  5. Yes it was! Millenarianism was a major impetus for the early missions in the Age of Exploration. I just read a book by Sanjay Subrahmanyan called “The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama” (see link). He basically explains how da Gama and his contemporaries were all part of religious cults and were searching for the fabled christian kingdom of “Prester John” in East Africa. They thought that by aligning themselves with this king they could launch a two front attack on the “moors.” Their goal was to take over the Indian Ocean trade and vanquish Islam, and there’s a thread of millenarianism running through their motives.

    The book was assigned in my Early Modern Indian Ocean history course I took last semester, and I found a lot of correlation between what was going on over there to what was happening in Ixachilan.

  6. And yet they paint our ancestors as superstitious fools obsessed with omens, gods and the “end of the world.”

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