Posted by: Johan Normark | December 20, 2011

2012: National Geographic partly misrepresents the Long Count

National Geographic explains the Long Count calendar and writes that the calendar will reset when it reaches 13 Baktun and therefore initiate a new cycle. This is not true but it remains a common belief among some Mayanists and the majority of 2012ers. People usually set up a basic dichotomy between two supposedly radically different conceptualizations of time: circular/cyclical and linear. This is a false dichotomy. A cyclical time consists of a linear sequence and linear time includes repretitive periods that are cyclical.  They are part of the same way of spatializing time to use a Bergsonian concept. Time is not linear or cyclical. Following McTaggart we can describe events as occuring before or after each others or the events are being past, present or future. When we describe events like that we usually separate them in space rather than in time.

Apart from these Western metaphysical problems, what did Maya metaphysical beliefs concerning the Long Count look like? Did they believe the Long Count was linear or cyclical? I claim that these concepts are irrelevant to the Long Count. 2012ers believe that the Aztec calendar stone is evidence of Maya cyclical time but that is of course dead wrong. This calendar stone is in no way similar to the way the Classic period Maya stacked time periods on top of each others. Each new period became larger higher up in the double column. The time periods became heavier and the burden of time increased as is indicated by gods carrying the time periods on their back. The Maya Long Count is not cyclical or linear. It is cumulative or perhaps massive (as in weight).



  1. Johan, this is an excellent analysis/critique.

  2. Every month, every year, every sun, every spirit, walk and pass when it has completed its just measure. Also, every blood and dynasty reaches the place of solitude as it takes the power and the throne. Measured was the time when the Itzáes praise the magnificence of the Three; measured was the time they could find the goodness of the Sun; measured was the time they could look over them the knitting of the stars; and from there, looking at them, the gods contemplated. The gods that were jailed in the stars. Then, everything was good and then, they were abated . . .”

  3. There is compelling evidence that time is seen as a road.

    Time As Coceptionalized By The Original People Of The Great Turtle.The Maya Time Notation Is Usefull In Dealing With Vast Past And Future Dates.The Light From Our Own Milky Way’s Center(Also The Location A Huge Black-hole) Takes 26,000 Yrs. To Reach Our Blue Orb.This Nearly 5,200 Yrs. Since The Raising Of The Sky And The Setting Of The Three Hearth-stones Is Mearly A Blip.The Classic Maya Wisdom Keepers Couldn’t Fantasize The Cosmos But Prove Their Theories With Science And Nature (math).


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