December 22, 2011 by staff
2012 Doomsday, A year from today the world will come to an end, according to some who cite the end of the Mayan Long Count calendar as evidence of a Dec. 21, 2012, apocalypse. But both astronomers and experts on Mesoamerican history say the Mayan apocalypse is likely to be another in a long line of failed doomsdays.
According to the Maya Long Count calendar, the winter solstice of 2012 – Dec. 21, 2012 -is the end of a b’ak’tun, a 144,000-day cycle that has repeated 12 times since the mythical Maya creation date. The b’ak’tun that will end in 2012 is the 13th, supposedly a full 5,200-year cycle of creation.
Because of this end date, a number of predictions have attached themselves to Dec. 21, from the end of the world via collision with a rogue planet, to the ushering in of a new world era. But neither historians nor astronomers put much credence in these predictions.
In fact, according to archaeologists, it wasn’t the Mayans who linked the end of the 13th b’ak’tun with the end of the world. According to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, when Judeo-Christians began to decipher Mayan writings, their preconceived notions of apocalypse and the end of the world led them to link Mayan calendar cycles with doomsday.
“A lot of the end-of-the-world mythologies are the result of Christian eschatology introduced by Franciscan missionaries,” John Hoopes, a scholar of Maya history at the University of Kansas, told Livescience, referring to missionaries just entering the New World andcoming into contact with native people.
Maya scholars disagree on exactly how the Maya people would have interpreted the end of their calendar cycle, Hoopes said, though many say they would have seen it as a new beginning.
Many of the supposed 2012 doomsday scenarios involve astronomical phenomena: A rogue planet, solar storms or a planetary alignment. But NASA scientists say these aren’t real threats.
One theory holds that a rogue body called “Planet X” or “Nibiru” will collide with Earth in 2012, snuffing out our planet. The only problem with this theory? Nibiru is made up.
“There’s no evidence whatsoever that Nibiru exists,” said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., at a public talk Dec. 8. Yeomans said theories that Nibiru is lurking behind our sun make no sense.
“We would have seen it years ago,” he said.
Likewise, Yeomans said, there are no planetary alignments or other astronomical anomalies set for Dec. 21, 2012.
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