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Maya Calendar Conversions - December 21, 2012

Author(s): 
Ximena Catepillan (Millersville University of Pennsylvania) and Waclaw Szymanski (West Chester University of Pennsylvania)

The date December 21, 2012, has received much media attention in recent months and years.  The popular disaster movie, 2012, released toward the end of 2009, depicted cataclysmic events occurring on this day.  Dr. Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center, has a more optimistic view of the significance of the date December 21, 2012:

While it is true that December 21, 2012 marks the end of a grand cycle in the Long Count calendar, none of the thousands of Maya hieroglyphic texts says a word about disasters, new ages of enlightenment, or the end of time. The prevailing notion that the Maya calendar must reset in 2012 may stem from confusion between a “world age” and a “cycle of time.” Maya myth tells us that the third Creation lasted 13 Baktuns. But that is not to say that the present world age will also last 13 Baktuns.

One thing is certain: the Maya regarded the turn of katuns and baktuns as times of renewal and transformation. If the ancient Maya could witness the current crop of doomsayers wringing their hands over the arrival of the 13th Baktun, they would probably be dismayed. Inevitably, changes were to be ushered in through dedicated action, sacrifice, and joyful celebration.

Lecture on 2012 graphic

Figure 2:  From Dr. Edwin Barnhart’s lecture on 2012 at Palenque, Mexico, August 2009.

Ximena Catepillan (Millersville University of Pennsylvania) and Waclaw Szymanski (West Chester University of Pennsylvania), "Maya Calendar Conversions - December 21, 2012," Loci (October 2010), DOI:10.4169/loci003536

Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED