Posted by: Johan Normark | June 25, 2009

2012: How to spot a prophet’s Maya hoax – The Aztec calendar stone

So far I have exposed some of the prophets of nonsense and their overall ideas concerning the 2012 end date. In this post I begin a possibly longer series of posts that emphasize the prophets’ use of data that they claim is Mayan but which is not. The purpose of these posts is to expose these self-proclaimed experts’ poor or twisted knowledge of the Maya. There are other blogs that better expose the flaws of the more astronomical part of these predictions and prophecies, such as 2012hoax, Yowcrooks, Exposing Pseudoastronomy, etc.

Now, if you do end up at one of these prophets’ websites or find their books in a bookstore, you are very likely to encounter a depiction of a calendar. The likelihood is also that this calendar not even derives from the Maya area, but from the Aztec area. You’ll probably see the Aztec Sun Calendar. This large stone, 3.6 m in diameter, was originally located in the central part of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital now buried below Mexico City. However, this is not a fully functional calendar (so it is basically a double flaw in the use of this calendar in New Age literature). The stone commemorates the five mythic world-creations (“suns”).


A prophet of nonsense review for the future

A prophet of nonsense to be reviewed in the future


In the center of the stone we have the sun god Tonatiuh or possibly the earth monster Tlaltecuhtli. It is surrounded by four squares called Nahui-Ollin (Four Movement). These represent four earlier creations (suns), that all were destroyed through cataclysmic events (jaguars, wind, rain, and flood). The Aztec believed they lived in the fifth and final world. Surrounding these are twenty squares that mention twenty Aztec day names (the equivalent of a winal in Maya calendar).

There are eight “arrow looking” details that surround the days. These are sun rays placed at cardinal points. Encircling these rays are two snakes that faces each other at the bottom of the stone. These snakes have designs that are believed to represent the 52 year calendar. At the top of the stone, between the tails of the snakes, is a square with the date 13 Reed carved. This corresponds to AD 1479, and is assumed to be the date the stone was finished or it relates to a date 52 years earlier, in 1427, when the Aztec tlatoani (ruler) Itzcoatl rose to power. It is also the beginning of the current creation which to the Aztec occured in AD 1011 (the Maya long count/the world’s creation is dated to 3114 BC, roughly 4000 years earlier…).  

The Aztecs did not use the long count calendar and they did not predict any end in 2012. Now, one of the reasons why this stone figures in New Age nonsense is that it (and other sources) states that the Aztecs were living in the fifth (and final) creation. The prophet John Major Jenkins has multiplied 5 with the length of the long count (roughly 25,500 years) and through this operation he claims that the Maya knew about the precision of the equinoxes, which is roughly this length of time.

However, there is no evidence that the Classic period Maya believed in five creations. Sure, Popol Vuh talks about several creations but this is in the 1550s when the area had been affected by Aztec beliefs. Yes, the Maya and Aztec shared a view of the world being spatially divided in four sections with a center (five in total) and they both had 365-days, 260-days, and 52 years cycles. But where they differ in terms of calendars is that the Maya also used a 360-days long cycle called tun (stone). This is then multiplied with 20, 400, 8000, etc., and these periods were used to describe far longer time periods than the 52 year cycle which all Mesoamerican people used. What we can see in the Classic period Maya calendars is that there are timeperiods way longer than the age of our universe, and there are dates beyond 2012.

So, now you know you see a prophet of nonsense if they use the Aztec Sun Calendar to convince you that the world will end/transform according to the Maya calendar. If they fail to see the difference between Aztec and Maya calendars, I am pretty sure they will have problems seeing other differences as well.

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  1. It is commonly accepted by experts in the field that the Aztecs derived their calendar from the Maya. The reason the Aztec sun calendar is used in relation to the Mayan long count is simple – it looks great! 2012 is full of fallacies and misconceptions (like the “galactic alignment” that actually happened 11 years ago), but at least this one is based on a universal truth – people respond to images, and this is the best we have for the long count.

  2. Yes, the calendar stone looks great but it has nothing to do with the long count. The Aztec did not derive their calendar from the Maya but from a more “general Mesoamerican tradition”.The Maya and Aztec calendars can therefore be traced back to earlier Mesoamerican calendars (such as Zapotec). Check this quote from Wikipedia (which is correct):

    “The Central Mexican calendar system is best known in the form that was used by the Aztecs, but similar calendars were used by the Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Tlapanecs, Otomi, Matlatzinca, Totonac, Huastecs, P’urhépecha and at Teotihuacan. These calendars differed from the Maya version mainly in that they didn’t use the long count to fix dates into a larger chronological frame than the 52-year cycle.”

  3. Johan;

    Thank you for this excellent entry, and thank you for referencing the 2012hoax wiki in it.

    I’ll be away from the keyboard for a week or so (family vacation, leaving tomorrow morning) but in the meantime I’d like you to consider this an invitation to join the 2012hoax wiki at Your expertise in the calendar sections would be greatly appreciated.

    If you choose not to join, I would appreciate your continued input on the calendar pages. Our goal with the wiki is to try to make it as accurate and truthful as possible… not that “truth” has any meaning for the 2012 hoaxers.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to talking with you in the future.

    Bill Hudson (astrogeek)

    My blog:
    2012hoax wiki:

  4. […] 2012: How to spot a prophet’s Maya hoax – The Aztec calendar stone Archaeological Haecceities… (accessed 2009-07-22) 2. Normark, Johan. PhD. 2009. Personal communication. 3. Mills, David L., […]

  5. Likewise, we can tell these 2012ers are pseudoscientists when they quote modern Maya shaman for their take on 2012. There are many modern day Maya religious elders who have been seduced by New Agers fawning over them and asking them to confirm their own ideas and so there is no shortage of quotes from these Maya that are used to give legitimacy to these 2012ers. The problem is that the Maya themselves all but completely abandoned the Long Count a thousand years ago. The only evidence of its use past the 9th century is from the Dresden Codex, and that appears to be a Postclassic copy of earlier books. Furthermore, the Highland Maya abandoned the Long Count even earlier, before the Classic period even started apparently. Interestingly, the majority of Maya elders who are quoted by 2012ers are from Highland Maya groups, so the distance from any real knowledge of the Long Count here is even greater.

    The quotes from Maya elders, it should be noted, never mention either the Long Count or the Calendar Round date for 2012. The quotes simply involve rather standard “End of the World” style quotes, many of which are easily seen to be heavily influenced by modern New Age beliefs. This should cause yet more skepticism. The situation is akin to asking modern Muslims for their take on the Last Day and then using that to inform us about Reformation Era Protestant beliefs about the End of the World. You are looking at beliefs from different times and different cultures and simply mashing them together to fit a pet hypothesis. The Aztecs tell us nothing about the actual ancient Maya beliefs about 2012 and neither do the modern Maya.

  6. Hunbatz Men (one of these elders?), has even talked about Atlantis which clearly indicate a non-Maya belief.

    The Aztecs are even less relevant to the 13 Baktun date since the earlier creations in Aztec cosmology had different durations, they were not all the same. The 2012 hoaxers always rely on the same amount of years (5126 years).

  7. Did the Aztecs believe the (their) current world age would end in a specific number of years?
    From what I have read they believed it would end during a cycle of Four-Movement (Nahui-Ollin).
    And that they gave sacrifices in order to keep the gods happy and prevent the end from happening.
    If this is true they did not professes to know the year, or even decade, century of the end of fifth sun only
    that it would occur during a cycle of 4-Movement.
    To me these calendars and associated rituals are just one of the methods the elite’s used to control the
    common people, keep their minds off current events and focus on what the elite’s wanted.
    But then you have Hernán Cortés arriving in 1519, during an Aztec Calendar year 1-Reed,
    and during a cycle of 4-Movement, maybe just luck?

  8. As far as I know their was no known end date of the fifth age, like the four previous ones. The next time it “might end” is in 2027. That may indeed be one of the reasons why they continued with the sacrifice.

  9. […] out this quote from Johan Normark: Yes, the calendar stone looks great but it has nothing to do with the long count. The Aztec did […]

  10. […] you search “Maya calendar” on Google you will see images of the Aztec calendar stone. The reason why this non-Maya monument has become the symbol for the Maya “end date” is […]

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