Posted by: Johan Normark | November 4, 2011

2012: No rest for the wicked

The 2012circus never gives me any rest… Rob Bast has launched critique of the anthropologist/archaeologist John Hoopes. You can find that critique here.

I guess you have to be a 2012er to “sense some fear” in what Hoopes says. What he does is to give a greater context of the history beyond the past decades. Of course people like Bast, Joseph, and Geryl care little about what the Spaniards believed 450 years ago. That is actually some of their greatest mistakes. It is at this time when great changes occurred in Maya beliefs, when Christian ideas affected them through reducción. For example, Calleman’s ideas of 9 and 13 vertical levels goes back to the early missionaries and later manifested by Eric Thompson. We have 9 horizontal regions in the Underworld, etc. Hence, Calleman’s model is based on a Colonial period model… There are plenty of examples which you can find on my blog. When later New Agers and pseudoscientists “find” so many similarities between Near Eastern religions and the Maya in various Colonial period sources and project them into the Prehispanic period they are ignorant of the messy history of the concepts they deal with.

Bast says that he has “looked into ancient history and modern science, and I think it is safe to say that ponderings of Columbus weren’t of any influence”. That is because you do not have to know this history in order to still use it. Bast and others are uncritical regarding ancient sources and do not believe contemporary anthropologists (they are part of the conspiracy). That is more or less the mindset of these people.

He ends the critique by stating that “if you really want to debunk 2012, you need to provide an alternate explanation for the Mayans using Dec 21 2012 as their end date, and you need to negate the very real possibilities of the Sun, or a comet, harming us.” Well, that is just wrong. There is no end date, the whole focus on 13 Baktun/Pik is wrong (no matter what correlation we use and I do think the GMT is problematic). There was no end or beginning of a new cycle at this date. That is simply mixing Christian/Western beliefs with ancient Maya, exactly what Hoopes says. In short, Bast missed the whole point of the argument.


Responses

  1. I guess I could have been more clear in my post…

    For me the key is the end of the Long Count Calendar, in 2012. Opinions vary on whether it is the end (full stop), the end (and the cycle renews) or even if the date is meaningful, seeing as dates beyond that have been found inscribed. However, I think there is enough evidence supporting each that it comes down to opinion.

    I have concentrated on the date, Dec 21 2012, along with considering where the date originated from (potentially pre-Mayan and pre-Olmec), and what legitimate scientific prediction could have been made.

    I do not believe in a Biblical apocalypse, and the mixing of Western beliefs with those of the Maya has not affected my research.

    I do believe there have been global cataclysms in the times of humans, and I’m looking for any evidence that helps me be safe if the next one is due soon.

    • Robert, we have not had the pleasure of conversing before, but I have to say that Johan’s criticism of your own critique of Hoopes is spot on. You claim that Christianity has not influenced your ideas about 2012, but you fail to realize that the argument is that Christianity affected Maya beliefs. So, if you ask modern Maya about the end of the world, surprise, surprise, they have apocalyptic views about the end of the world. There is no reason to suspect that these reflect Prehispanic beliefs because ALL Maya have been Christian for the better part of half a millennium now. You can’t tell me that Christianity has not affected their beliefs.

      We must also acknowledge that neither you, nor I, nor Hoopes nor Johan are the originators sui generis of the 2012 meme. So it is in an honest question of where these ideas came from. They were born from New Age (ie// John Major Jenkins and José Argüelles) misunderstandings of the Maya calendar. Michael Coe wrote back in 1966 that the Maya viewed the end of 13 baktuns as an apocalypse but he was wrong. Thompson got it right: there is NO evidence for any 13 baktun cycle. 20 baktuns make up a pictun and the end of 13 baktuns, while it would undoubtedly have been a cause for some big calendar celebrations, was not considered to mark the end of anything other than the 13th baktun itself.

      The idea that the Maya designed their calendar to fall on December 21, 2012 is also utter bunkum. Gerardo Aldana has provided an excellent and truly scientific analysis of the GMT correlation and shown it to be far weaker than most people, including yourself, think. Even disregarding the correlation issue, and accepting the GMT, there is absolutely no basis for the statement that the ancient Maya designed their calendar to fall on Dec. 21, 2012. As noted, the Maya calendar does NOT end in 2012. There is a single reference to Dec. 21, 2012 in ancient Maya hieroglyphic writing. There are well over a dozen references to the origin date of the calendar, 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku (Aug. 11, 3114 B.C. in the GMT). Thus, we can be quite confident that the Maya, like absolutely every other group that has ever constructed a linear calendar, designed their calendar with the origin date in mind, not the end date.

      You are simply wrong when you say there is evidence supporting each interpretation of 2012, unless you consider worthless evidence and false data to be the equivalent of actual, reliable scientific information. Your beliefs about 2012 are derivative of those of people whose ideas are demonstrably based upon New Age and Christian apocalyptic visions, melded with misunderstood ideas about the Maya calendar.

  2. The Maya was affected by the conquest and the following colonization. All research on the Prehispanic Maya have been affected by that. The correlation constant that sets the “end” date on December 21 next year was partially formulated by Eric Thompson (the T in the GMT). Although he died several decades ago some of his ideas still remain. However, epigraphic breakthroughs after his death has given us new insights. For some reason, most 2012ers are ignorant of these new insights. They look back to a time when the Maya were believed to be time worshippers living in empty cities. Since most Mayanists have cared little about the correlation issue during the past decades (apart from Aldana and some others), it has left the field open for wild speculations with little to no support.

  3. Rob
    How about you look for evidence that global catacalysms during human times ever happened in the first place. There should be plenty of it. You tend to connect dots where there are none.

  4. Looks like a guy named Zach has commented on Robert’s post. I wonder who he is – he raises some excellent points about the astronomy of 2012 not being unique, and the impetus being on Robert to show it is … not the other way around of “If you really want to debunk 2012, you need to provide an alternate explanation … .” Sorry Robert, that’s not how it works. As Zach so eloquently put it, the burden is on YOU to backup YOUR claim, not for someone else to debunk it.

    • Thanks, I just wrote a comment on his post urging him to give us hieroglyphic evidence as well.

  5. I guess what it comes down to us this:

    The Mayans, and other Mesoamericans appear to have believed that at the end of each previous Age/Sun/World the gods wiped out humans with natural disasters. Evidence: Popul Vuh and the Aztec Sun Stone.

    Were these thoughts tainted by Christianity? The Sun Stone certainly wasn’t, and the Popul Vuh potentially – yet apart from the idea of an apocalypse (of which the Maya had many historically, and Christians have one due in the future) I can’t see any other connection between the Popul Vuh and Christianity.

    So, to reiterate – my chief concern is the end date, that it even exists is worrisome. For every reference to why Dec 21 2012 isn’t the end of the Long Count, there are many more that say it is.

    The last creation ended on 12.19.19.17.19 in a cataclysm. I’m concerned that, calendars being cyclical, the same will occur again on 12.19.19.17.19 – Dec 20, 2012.

    There is a LOT of evidence regarding a global cataclysm around 10-12,000 years ago. A good starting point is Cataclysm by Allan and Delair, or Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock.

    It has also been suggested that something big happened around the date 3000BC, as the start of the current Long Count seems to coincide with some sudden changes in various cultures including the Egyptians, but so far nobody has really worked it out.

    • Robert, it is clear that you have bought into the 2012 meme, but unfortunately in this case the statement “Everything You Know Is Wrong” is applicable. You don’t have to trust me, but you do have to accept that science is 100% against the 2012ers and their misunderstanding of both astronomy and Maya culture.

      So let’s look at your evidence: the Popol Vuh and the Aztec Calendar Stone. #1, the Aztecs never followed the Long Count calendar and the Aztecs are not Maya. Therefore, the Aztec Calendar Stone has NOTHING to do with the Maya Long Count calendar. It is utterly worthless in this discussion.

      #2, the Popol Vuh story, as Johan points out, is a Colonial document and the Maya abandoned the Long Count nearly 700 years before this document was written. As Johan points out, by then the Highland Quiche Maya had already undergone significant influence from Central Mexico. Even more important is the fact that this is a document from a Highland Maya group, whose last common ancestor with the Lowland Maya was approximately 2000-3000 years earlier. Neither you nor I would talk to modern Germans to help us understand the Anglo-Saxons who invaded England after the Roman Empire, but they are separated by only half that amount of time. The Highland Maya are not descendants of the Classic Maya, and the Highland Maya abandoned the Long Count calendar almost as soon as they adopted it, before AD 200. So it is completely unreasonable to expect the beliefs recorded in the Colonial era Popol Vuh to reflect Classic Maya traditions, or have anything to do with the Long Count calendar.

      You claim that “For every reference to why Dec 21 2012 isn’t the end of the Long Count, there are many more that say it is.” This is simply false and reflects the fact that you have not been able so far in relation to 2012 to distinguish between nonsense and fact. There is absolutely no proof that the ancient Maya thought of Dec. 21, 2012 as important in any way. There is a single reference to 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 3 Kankin but it does not mention the winter solstice or anything like it at all. This date is taken as December 21, 2012 because people have assumed the GMT correlation is correct, but there isn’t even a single reference to the winter solstice being important to ancient Maya culture. The equinoxes were important, we know, as these are encoded in the Castillo at Chichen Itza, but as Mark Van Stone has pointed out, solstices are conspicuous by the absence of ancient Maya interest in them.

      There is also absolutely no evidence for your statement that the last creation ended in a cataclysm on 12.19.19.17.19, 3 Cauac 7 Cumku. That date appears in not a single ancient inscription. The Temple XIX platform at Palenque refers to the date 12.10.12.14.18, 1 Edznab 6 Yaxkin when the celestial monster was beheaded and his blood was pooled and fire started. If there is any reference to a previous creation being destroyed in a cataclysm, that is it. But note; it occurred nearly 200 years before the August 11, 3114 B.C. “creation” event that fell on 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku. So, if we are going to consider an analogy between the last creation and this, there still isn’t the slightest reason to believe the Maya thought it would occur on 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 3 Kankin. If anything, the Maya would have thought of that date as the date of a new creation, after a previously occurring destruction.

      However, we know from Tortuguero and Palenque that the Maya did not see 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 3 Kankin as the end of anything other than the 13th baktun. While the new creation started when the 13th baktun ended, there is no reason to believe that there was a 13 baktun cycle. 20 baktuns makes a pictun, not 13. The 2012ers are simply wrong on all of this. It isn’t that they just have a different but equally valid opinion. They are wrong and all the facts prove them wrong. However, the fact that you cite Graham Hancock as an authority makes me think that all my effort here may be in vain, at least with you. Graham Hancock is a fraud and a charlatan and even his own handpicked experts disagree with his nonsensical claims.

      • Yeah, I was going to ignore the whole Graham Hancock reference. His evidence for things includes “deeply channeled information.” ‘Nough said.

  6. Popol Vuh is an early Colonial manuscript and at that time the highlands of Guatemala had been under Mexican (most recently Aztec) influence during most of the Postclassic period. The Long Count had not been in use for centuries when the Spaniards came. It is from the Postclassic period you begin to see ideas reminiscent of what you term World Ages. They are not there during the Late Preclassic as far as we can tell (when the Long Count was in use). The Maya simply changed over time but 2012ers treat them as static.

    You continue to repeat the false assumption that there is an end date. Why then do the inscriptions at Palenque mention dates in the next Piktun (4772 AD)? The Long Count is not a cycle. Have you read David Stuart’s book yet? If not, do it.

  7. I haven’t read David Stuart’s book, nor have I read The 2012 Story (I bought it, but it appears to be too long and dull to interest me).

    In fact I’ve read way more books about cosmic rays, volcanoes, comets and survivalism that I have about the Maya. Most of the Mayan story is of little interest to me. Of interest is the Dec 21, 2012 date, where they may have got it from (of course their late lack of interest in the Long Count reinforces the idea that it was given to them, not created by them), and questions surrounding their pyramids.

    As Jenkins and others point out in reviews on Amazon, Stuart does not cover astronomy in his book. Well, Dec 21 is the winter solstice, and the gloomiest day of the year. Given that the Long Count dates are seemingly arbitrary, surely the date they chose should be looked at?

    From looking at the preview pages at Amazon, it would appear that Stuart spends more time discussing the 260-day calendar than the Long Count – even though the former is the only one meaningful to 2012.

    An inscription has a date beyond 2012 – that’s not much in the way of evidence that the Long Count is not a cycle. It could just be that Pacal, showing his greatness, declared that the world could not end, because he had predicted a festival would occur in 4772.

    According to Linda Schele and David Freidel, the Long Count was cyclical for the Maya looking back.

    Surely you accept the last World Age ended on 12.19.19.17.19 of the previous Long Count?

    I suggest it is reasonable to infer they would’ve expected the same this time around. There were some pretty gruesome rituals in Mesoamerica every 52 years, designed to stop the world ending, so imagine what the Maya could have planned for 2012!

    • “Well, Dec 21 is the winter solstice, and the gloomiest day of the year.” A very quick search shows that the Classic and Post-Classic Maya generally inhabited the Yucatán Peninsula and a few surrounding states in present-day Mexico. The northern-most latitude here is around 20°. That’s well within the Tropic of Cancer. The average temperatures in this area are 75-85°F. I’d hardly call that “gloomy.”

    • Robert, your thinking is most peculiar. You say that “An inscription has a date beyond 2012 – that’s not much in the way of evidence that the Long Count is not a cycle.” Actually, it is one piece of solid evidence, which is corroborated by the fact that on Tortuguero Monument 6 it says that 13 baktuns end on 4 Ahau 3 Kankin. It doesn’t say 1 pictun will end, which is the next cycle. There are many references to 1 pictun as the next higher order up from the baktun. There isn’t even a single one that says there is a 13 baktun cycle. Not one! So the two pieces of evidence, from Tortuguero and Palenque, are literally an infinite amount more evidence than you or the other 2012ers have for a 13 baktun cycle.

      You are wrong that the Maya thought the “last World Age ended on 12.19.19.17.19″, as I pointed out above. Your problem is that you spend all your time thinking about potential cosmic catastrophes, while you admittedly haven’t focused much on the Maya at all. Which is absurd when you think of it, because there isn’t even a single mention of December 21, 2012 being an important date outside of discussions of the Maya culture. If you’re so interested in this subject shouldn’t you go to the source rather than racing to implications of claims you don’t even understand because you haven’t researched them? Since you are here conversing with us I have to assume you are interested in an academic discussion on these issues. Don’t you think that in order to resolve our differences we should concentrate on the central point in all of this discussion: whether the Maya even considered 2012 an important date? After all, if they didn’t, then all the rest of your investigation of potential catastrophes the Maya might have predicted for this date are entirely for naught.

      • Stanley, as I said above, I expect that the Maya received the Long Count calendar from a prior civilization. That goes hand in hand with how the present day Mayan people don’t build pyramids. For me the Sun Stone and the Long Count calendar and the start of the Popul Vuh are all that remains of knowledge passed down to them a very long time ago.

        I know that absence of evidence isn’t evidence, but with literally thousands of Mayan books burned, and I’d suggest the majority of Mayan inscriptions undiscovered or undeciphered, that one, or two inscriptions don’t really make much difference.

        While the inscriptions were not just made by anybody, they are still the opinion of the author, and not really evidence of the beliefs of a culture that was around for a very long time. They certainly don’t date to when the Long Count was conceived (or received).

        Even if Pacal or similar declared, and inscribed somewhere, that the Long Count was a created by evil demons, and was wrong and without merit, and all Mayans were forbidden to use it henceforth… I’d still want to know how the Long Count came about, and why that end date was chosen.

        If it isn’t the end date, then you should really update Wikipedia…

        But seriously, is a World/Age/Sun 13 baktuns or 1 pictun? From what I have read, there are plenty of experts who agree with the former or the latter, and that really it comes down to whether you are trying to feel something about 2012 or wish it didn’t exist.

        One explanation is that it used to be 13 baktuns, but when they Mayans decided to start using larger time periods it made sense to use the more standard 20 number, because they used base 20.

        Regardless, at least 15 stela have the date of creation as being 13.0.0.0.0. So, in the context of doomsdays, or even rebirth, if the last creation was on 13.0.0.0.0, and they believed in many Worlds/Suns/Ages, then you can infer the next creation date will be Dec 21 2012.

        I’m not a Christian, but I guess it would the same difference as quoting the Bishop of Canterbury, versus something written in the Old Testament.

      • Robert, you continue to make major mistakes in logic here. The Aztec Sun Stone has NOTHING to do with the Long Count calendar. All Mesoamericans shared a 260 day ritual calendar, but each ethnic group had its own 365 day pseudo-solar calendar. And only two groups, the Maya and the Isthmian/epi-Olmec ever used the Long Count. The Long Count is the latest addition to this set of Mesoamerican calendars and is not based upon either the 260 or 365 day calendars. They run in tandem, but those groups that never adopted the Long Count would have no connection in the two calendars they did have with the Long Count. Therefore you really must abandon the Aztec Sun Stone as having ANY relevance to this topic. And as for the Popol Vuh, as Mary Ellen Miller has pointed out, since it is a Colonial era document of a Highland Maya Group, using it to analyze Classic Maya religion is the equivalent of using Gnostic gospels found in Egypt to understand the European Reformation of the 16th century. To use it to analyze the Long Count, as you and other 2012ers try, is absurd, since the Popol Vuh NEVER mentions the Long Count, and was written by a group only tangentially related to the Classic Maya (no Maya hieroglyphs had been carved in the region of the Quiche Maya for more than a thousand years at that point). Other than language, the Quiche Maya had more in common with the Aztecs than they did the Classic Maya (see the archaeological remains recovered from Iximche, the Quiche capital). One of your problems is that you essentialize “Maya” culture (and confuse it with Aztec culture), and simply cherry pick facts from any group to construct your picture of “the Maya”. But there are literally over two dozen different groups who speak related but very different Mayan languages and have had very divergent histories over the last three thousand years or more.

      • Stan,

        Rob has moved onto his speciality: supervolcanoes and meteorites. Pyramids throughout the world are simply bunkers protecting people from various disasters in the past. How stupid of us archaeologists to believe they were tombs (among other things). Obviously, Rob’s mysterious elders moved around and spread knowledge, just to confuse us here in the early 21st century.

      • As for your appeal to missing or undiscovered monuments as a reason to still cling to the belief in 2012 as an end date, it is true that there are many unexcavated mounds. However, new hieroglyphic texts remain a rarity, and there is no a priori reason to suspect that there are more missing or undiscovered references to 2012 than there are to 3114 B.C. Remember, we have well over a dozen references to the origin date of the calendar, but still only 1 to 2012. Thus, I must repeat, the idea that the Maya or anyone else invented the Long Count with December 21, 2012 as the End Date is pseudoscientific nonsense, without a shred of evidence to support it. Like every other similar linear calendar, the Long Count was clearly devised with its origin date in mind, as can be seen by those numerous mentions of 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku. The end date wasn’t “chosen”, it is pure coincidence and follows from the origin date the Maya DID choose. Furthermore, the 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 3 Kankin date only falls on December 21, 2012 in one interpretation of the correlation between the Long Count and our own Gregorian calendar. Most epigraphers follow Lounsbury and thus see December 23rd, 2012 as the equivalent of 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 3 Kankin, and Gerardo Aldana has recently provided strong reason to doubt the GMT correlation altogether. Since there is NO mention of anything astronomical on Tortuguero Monument 6 we haven’t any reason to believe the ancient Maya saw any connection to the winter solstice with this date.

        Regarding the pictun, 20 baktuns make up a pictun, as Thompson showed more than 60 years ago. Those “experts” who claim that 13 baktuns made up any cycle recognized by the ancient Maya are simply wrong and have no evidence to support their claims. They have gotten confused, as have you, by the fact that the Maya referred to the origin date of the calendar as 13.0.0.0.0. But there is no evidence that the Maya thus expected the end of the world or their calendar on the next time 13.0.0.0.0 rolled around, and we have plenty of evidence they did NOT believe this.

        As for wikipedia, anyone who relies on that open encyclopedia is a bloody fool. I penalize my students if they cite wikipedia as it quite unreliable, especially for controversial topics. It does not reflect the reliability of claims, merely their popularity. Your emphasis of wikipedia as a source merely demonstrates the lack of rigor in your researching and scholarship, I am afraid.

      • Johan, you are correct. Robert, being a 2012er, doesn’t bother actually following scientific methodology in constructing his beliefs so we are probably barking up the wrong tree by trying to correct his epistemology and ways of thinking. The trouble is that pseudoscientists like him and the 2012ers in general try to pretend that their ideas are just as scientific as the ones we painstakingly produce. That gets my goat, and so I continue to bark at them, hoping that if I don’t convince them they’ll at least go away and stop sullying the name of science with their gibberish.

  8. By gloomy I meant dark not cold. Certainly the effect is more pronounced closer to the poles, but if I were to choose a day out of the year to represent doomsday, regardless of culture, the winter solstice would be it.

    I consider Dec 21 2012 to be representative of the 6 months before and after, and somewhere in that 12 month window is the actual date they predicted for a cataclysm – if they did indeed make such a prediction.

    I think that choosing the winter solstice was a way of encoding their fears, so that as long as the calendar remained, that people like myself could crack the “code” and know that they really did meant something dramatic would occur.

    • On December 21 at 20° NORTH latitude, you get just under 11 hours of daylight. I don’t consider this dark. You also may be forgetting that December 21 is a solstice, period. In the northern hemisphere, it’s winter; in the southern, it’s summer. We’d also need to know whether the Maya actually considered that representative of “dark.”

      Your interpretation reminds me of a Star Trek episode. Troi was explaining to Picard the difficulty in learning someone else’s language. She held up a mug with coffee (or tea, maybe) in it, pointed, and then said a made up word; let’s just say she said, “Mgdrom.” Picard responded, “Cup.” Troi said that may have been what she said. Or it could have meant “white” because that was it’s color. Or she could have meant “vessel.” Or “hot” to indicate the liquid inside. Or “liquid.” Or “[coffee or tea -- again, I don't remember which].”

      My point is that you are imposing your own cultural views and preconceptions upon a people who may have meant something entirely different, and that’s even giving you that Dec. 21, 2012 is the “end” of their calendar … which much more knowledgeable people than I on this blog have already explained to you is NOT the case.

  9. Well, that’s my explanation for why they chose the winter solstice… apart from Jenkins I don’t think anyone else has tried to answer it. Yet surely “why this date?” is the most important question, if seen from a doom’n’gloom point of view.

    If not from a doom’n’gloom, or spiritual rebirth angle, I really don’t know why anyone else feels the need to discuss 2012, expect for displaying intellectual superiority…

    • In responding to your last paragraph — first, spiritual rebirth is not scientific in any way, it’s new-agey stuff that has nothing to really do with anything. As for why to discuss it, well, what about $$$? Have you seen how much people like Jenkins, Brent Miller, Calleman, and innumerable others have made off of hyping this stuff? As opposed to say myself or Johan, who haven’t made anything in trying to debunk it and put peoples’ fears to rest?

  10. Age old argument – they are in it for the money! Authors don’t earn as much as people think – the old rule of thumb was a $1 per book sold, and a standard print run is 3000 books. If your book is being reprinted, you made $3000…They are far more likely to be in it to feel (or even be) important.

    I’m not in it for the money, but I do profit from it – I’d be a fool not to! My book has taken 10 years and still isn’t out, because I want to get it right.

    However there are some dodgy 2012 ebooks about there, preying on the fearful, that have made a mint.

    • Hi Robert.
      Lot of people interpret the last page of the Dresden Codex, that the World will be destroyed by water. But the water there is just the sign of the starting of the age of Aquarius,, or new energies will be flowing to Earth from the Sun and the Stars, as energies flow from Stars to Atars and Planets as energies flow in our accupuncture lines. Robert Cox in his book; The Pillar of Celestial Fire wrote that will start in July 2010 , so maybe 2012 happened already last year, but some others say that Aquarius will start in about 2060, not in 2012, And Sitchin never predicted 2012 for the return of Nibiru, He never predicted anything he just translated the Sumerian tablets,
      The 2012ers mix the Maya calenders, christian Bible, and religious
      mumbo jumbo all into 2012.
      People also believe that the Gods will be returning to Earth, as the new age began, but I m sure that will not happen, even they all promised to people everywhere, that they will return when they all left Earth in about 560 BC.

      • Since when did Aquarius become part of Maya mythology?

  11. Once again, Rob, you should at least read David Stuart’s book in order to get a thorough and updated review of the calendar. Jenkins severely biased review of his book was so bad and only reflects his own hurt ego.

    The Maya Long Count really does not have anything to do with astronomy (apart from the basic unit, the day = sun). Basically, what David Stuart argues is that the LC we usually see (such as 9.5.2.4.0) is only a short hand for the real LC that covers octillions of years (27 zeros). In this view the so-called “pre-era” dates you refer to are only part of a much greater order of the calendar, not part of an earlier world age.

    If you ask me I do believe the LC was associated with the rise and fall of the divine kingship (ajawlel). In the Postclassic these were no longer around and the Yucatec Maya used a Short Count instead, and this was clearly cyclical. Once again, the Maya changed over time. As for your (and most other 2012ers’) unsupported belief that the Maya got their calendar from a much older civilization (your “mysterious elders”), around five thousand years ago, is simply not based on how calendars work. People do not start their calendar when a certain event actually occurs. They trace their calendar back to this time long afterwards. No one started a calendar when Jesus was born. The Christian calendar did not start until several centuries after his birth. The same goes for Buddhists. The exception here is the Muslim calendar which was initiated fairly soon after it’s declared starting point. That has to do with the immediate success of Islam. It took much longer for Christianity and Buddhism to become state religions (and hence a need to establish a new calendar was demanded). The earliest known LC dates emerge in the Late Preclassic, when we have reasons to believe the divine kingship also emerged). However, if you really follow your own logic you must claim that your elders were around several octillion years ago.

    I suspect that if you reply to this Rob you will once again state that there is an end next year…

  12. So what event did they trace their calendar back to 3114BC?

  13. As I have stated before, the Long Count that we find on most monuments is a short-hand version of a much longer one, found at Coba (http://decipherment.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/the-era-date-on-coba-stela-5/). According to this greater one there is a 13 Baktun ending back in 3114 BC. At this time the outlines of the world as the Maya knew it was laid. It is important to note that there apparently existed some order before this, but not several world ages. The notion of several world ages simply does not work with the way dates are recorded in the long Long Count at Coba.

  14. Yet there are plenty of stelae that are missing all those leading 13s. And they all say that it was the year of Creation. Combine that with other sources and it was the year of Creation following Destruction.

    If it was an historical occasion they have memorialized in the Long Count calendar, it would be interesting to know what it was…

    • Robert, please remember that I already pointed out to you that if we follow Classic period inscriptions we see that 13.0.0.0.0, 4 Ahau 8 Cumku was NOT the end of the last creation. The decapitation of the Celestial Monster and pooling of his blood must be considered that “end date” and it fell nearly 200 years before the creation date. So if you insist on an analogy between the previous creation and this one your search for possible catastrophes the Maya were predicting should have been done in the age of Napoleon. Sorry, but you’re too late, but you needn’t worry, as there is no reason to make that sort of analogy to begin with. Your 2012er friends don’t understand the ancient Maya, nor their calendars, nor science itself for that matter.

      Many people have wondered why the Maya chose that date for the beginning of their calendar. Why does the Jewish calendar begin on 7 October, 3761 BC? Why does the Hindu calendar begin on February 18, 3102 BC? If we can’t figure out these cases, where we have nearly an infinite amount of more information, plus modern groups that use these calendars, why should we expect to have to have figured out why the Maya chose to set their calendar to when they did? Most importantly, all of these types of linear calendars have an established beginning date, but NONE was designed with the end date in mind.

  15. …and the only monument mentioning the future 13 Baktun (Tortuguero Monument 6) simply skips all lower levels as well. Why? Probably for the same reason as stelae lack the extended LC: to save textual space. Why include all other higher and lower levels when those who could read the text knew that the LC was about? Unfortunately few 2012ers know what it is about. The Maya had to include other information on their monuments. Just check Roman monumental inscriptions, there you will see plenty of abbreviations.

    It wasn’t a “historical” event that they memorialized in the way Westerners understand history. It is a mythical event.

  16. Johan, I actually disagree with David Stuart about the Grand Long Count. I cannot see that as the original, “full”, Long Count. Rather, I concur with Mark Van Stone in seeing a development of thinking about the Long Count. The original Long Count is almost certainly just the first five units and nothing more, and I suspect that at this time the origin date was simply 0.0.0.0.0. Late, probably in the Early Classic period, the idea came about that this origin date had a baktun set at 13, an important number for ancient Mesoamericans. I suspect this is probably when conceptions of earlier creations also came about. Then, at Tikal by the early-6th century, we see evidence for higher units to the Long Count. These also show up at Yaxchilan and Coba, but as Mark Van Stone has shown, these higher order units, set at 13 on the creation date, are just place holders and do not actually function in the same way as the first five units of the original Long Count. Only in Coba do they conceive of 20 higher units all set at 13. The numermancy in this is obvious.

  17. I agree that the earliest forms of the calendar would have been the shorter one but that it was expanded at a later time and at that time it would have been possible to include so-called “pre-era” dates within the extended version, as seen at Palenque (I know we do not have inscriptions with the extended version at that site). Otherwise, the only option I see is to argue, as Gronemeyer and MacLeod do, that the “pre-era” dates recorded in a 13 baktun count was the way they had to record earlier events because they lacked negative numbers.


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