Saturday, August 13, 2011

The REAL Mayan Experts Finally Begin Addressing 2012

[from Boing Boing]

"It's August of 2011, do you know when your Apocalypse is?

There are 1000s of people who think that something important—if not the end or the world, then something—will happen on December 21, 2012. These speculations spring from a well-seasoned cultural melting pot, but a key ingredient is the writings and beliefs of both ancient and modern Maya people. In fact, the folks promoting the 2012 movement often frame themselves as experts in Maya traditions.

Here's the thing, though: There are actual experts in ancient Maya traditions, and actual experts who study the culture and religion of modern Maya living today. These archaeologists and anthropologists have, inadvertently, created some of the pop culture legends that spawned the 2012 movement. But, until very recently, they've largely ignored that movement. This is starting to change, however. Last January, archaeo-astronomers held a symposium on the 2012 phenomenon and those papers were recently published in The Proceedings of the International Astronomy Union. Meanwhile, a new scholarly book, collecting essays on the 2012 phenomenon by Mayanist researchers, is set to be published soon.

One of the researchers featured in that book is John Hoopes, an archaeologist and one of my former professors when I was an anthropology student at The University of Kansas.

Hoopes does field research, digging at archaeological sites in Costa Rica and other parts of Central and South America. But, as a side project, he's also developed some expertise in the way archaology—and, particularly, pseudo-archaeology—influence pop culture in the United States and Europe. I spoke with him about where 2012 myths come from, why scientists need to study and address pseudo-science movements, and why he thinks the 2012 phenomenon owes as much to H.P. Lovecraft and Aldous Huxley as it does to the ancient Maya."



Autumnforest said...

Very cool article. I am somewhat annoyed by some people I have known who have changed their lives because of this belief, but then people to it every day for religion, so I guess it's not that unprecedented for human beings.

Jessica Penot said...

I had always read that the Mayans saw the end of the world as a cyclical event. The world has ended before and will be reborn. The last end was an end in water and the world is reborn into the age of fire and the next end is an in end fire and a rebirth into the age of ether. I liked that idea. The end seems so final but every end is a new beginning.

Lewis Powell IV said...

I'm with Jessica, if anything happens, I think it won't be final but a restarting of a cycle. I see it as kinda like the Death card in a tarot deck: meaning a new beginning rather than a final end.

Cullan Hudson said...

I agree. The evidence is there that the Mayan calendars are cyclical. That it ends in 2012 is simply a testament that they couldn't keep writing on and on and on and on forever; they had to stop somewhere.