The end is near…the long Maya count down

Posted: March 23, 2012 - 09:19 , by admin

Circluar disc with glyphs inscribed around the rim of the artifact.

Altar commemorating the midpoint of a k’atun in 682 CE. Sandstone. Late Classic Period (AD 600-900). Toniná, Chiapas, Mexico. Museo Regional de Chiapas. Image (c) CONACULTA.-INAH.-MEX. Jorge Vertiz 2011. Reproduction Authorized by the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

As we count down to the close of Maya: Secrets of their Ancient World on April 9, 2012, our thoughts turn again to the mysterious Maya calendar ending in December 2012.

There has been a lot of controversy around the end of day prophecies, but among Mayanists another debate raging on – what date marks the final day of the 13th ba’k’tun of the Maya Calendar?

We asked Justin Jennings, ROM curator of New World Archaeology, to weigh in and help us uncover the controversy surrounding this date. Within the exhibition, the ROM has stated that December 23, 2012 is the final day of the long count calendar. This follows the growing consensus among academics, but since the 1970s scholars have also cited December 21, 2012 as the final day.

The debate hinges on tracing the long count back (note that each of the 13 ba’k'tun cycles is a little under 400 solar years) to when the Maya thought the present creation began – either August 11 or August 13 of 3114 BC in our Gregorian Calendar. Learn more about how the ancient Maya calendar works.

Whatever date you side on, Dr. Jennings believes the Maya would have planned a grand celebration for the end of the long count calendar. Do you have plans yet?