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Armageddon – Episode 7

Over Sunday roast this weekend it was bought to my attention by a friend and fellow blogger Slyph, that at no point during my Armageddon “feature” had I pointed out that the “belief” that the Mayan calendar in some way indicated the end of the world was incorrect, and another friend and new blogger posted his own Armageddon themed post so I thought I better get to it and get a very late Episode 7 done.

So as I am running pretty short on ideas as to how or why the world could end in December I thought I would use this late episode 7  to take a look at the Calendar and where all the hype has come from.  My recent visit to visit to Mexico and specifically Chichén Itzá obviously makes me an expert!

The basis for the entire “end of the world in 2012” theory, or at least the one based on the Mayans is the end of their calendar on the 21st December 201, this however is not actually true.

What the calendar actually shows is the end of the current b’ak’tun. A period of time that the Mayans used that is equal to 144,000 days or 394(ish) years. The fact that we are in fact currently in the 13th b’ak’tun, in itself implies that one ending is not the end of the world.

Saying that, there is at least some “reasoning” behind this idea, some scholars believe that that when the Mayan Long Count reaches 13 b’ak’tun’s it resets itself like below. 3 Kawak 7 Kumku August 10, 3114 BC 4 Ahau 8 Kumku August 11, 3114 BC 5 Imix 9 Kumku August 12, 3114 BC

Which in relation to the current cycle would lead to the below. 3 Kawak 2 Kankin December 20, 2012 AD 4 Ahau 3 Kankin December 21, 2012 AD 5 Imix 4 Kankin December 22, 2012 AD

This is however only one scenario, there are others who believe that the count would rather continue with 13 as the b’ak’tuns, being, and then, and so on up until the 14th bak’tuns, being represented as (Source: http://mayan-calendar.com/ancient_longcount.html) and others that believe that like the other place values in the count, they are a cycle of 20, meaning that even in the event that the calendar was some kind of doomsday clock its end is a long way off.

There are in fact cycles that are higher than the b’ak’tun, which can be found on inscriptions in Palenqu, Copán and Coba among others.


Table of Long Count units Days

Long Count period

Long Count unit

Approximate solar years

1   1 Kin  
20 20 Kin 1 Uinal  
360 18 Uinal 1 Tun ~ 1
7200 20 Tun 1 Ka’tun


144000 20 Ka’tun 1 Bak’tun


2880000 20 Bak’tun 1 Pictun


57600000 20 Pictun 1 Kalabtun


1152000000 20 Kalabtun 1 K’inchiltun


23040000000 20 K’inchiltun 1 Alautun



To me at least it seems odd that they would have a measurement of time for something that theoretically shouldn’t happen.

More to the point at various sites across Mesoamerica there are references to dates beyond December 12th 2012, at Palenque for example where a text in the Temple of the Inscriptions talks about the anniversary of its Ruler K’inich Janaab’ Pakal on October 21st 4772. Planning a party for almost 3000 years after the end of the world seems more than a little redundant.

On a side note you should check K’inich Janaab’ Pakal out, he is the guy famously shown in Erich von Däniken’s “Chariots of the Gods” as proof of the supposed extraterrestrial influence on the Maya.

 “In the center of that frame is a man sitting, bending forward. He has a mask on his nose, he uses his two hands to manipulate some controls, and the heel of his left foot is on a kind of pedal with different adjustments. The rear portion is separated from him; he is sitting on a complicated chair, and outside of this whole frame, you see a little flame like an exhaust.

Anyways let’s say that the theories were correct, that December the 21st was indeed the end of the current era/cycle what should we expect? Well we don’t know, Mayan text offer no insight as to what the end of the 13th b’ak’tun might hold, although we do know that the end of each one was considered a time of great change.

The end of the 8th, 9th, 10th 11th and 12th did indeed bring some pretty big changes for those concerned.

The beginning of the 8th bak’tun (41 AD)
The last of the Olmec cities, some surviving for almost 1000 years, were abandoned and never reinhabited.

The beginning of the 9th bak’tun (435 AD)
Teotihuacan’s influence began in the Maya world, resulting new cities, a flurry of new dynasties, and warfare.

The beginning of the 10th bak’tun (830 AD)
The end of the Classic period and the still unexplained abandonment of 100’s of cities.

The beginning of the 11th bak’tun (1224 AD)
The abandonment of Chichen Itza in Yucatan and the rise of Mayapan.
The beginning of the 12th bak’tun (1618 AD)
The last great Maya empire, the Itza of Lake Peten, sent emissaries to the Spanish announcing they are ready to embrace the change the turn of cycles will bring.

Although it’s fair to say that many of these changes could have been driven by the Mayans belief in the change that the end of a b’ak’tun would bring as opposed to any event caused by its ending.

To finish ill give the views of somepeople who despite my visit to Mexico this year are even more knowledgeable on the subject than myself.

Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, stated that “We have no record or knowledge that [the Maya] would think the world would come to an end” in 2012.

“For the ancient Maya, it was a huge celebration to make it to the end of a whole cycle,” says Sandra Noble, executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Crystal River, Florida. To render December 21, 2012, as a doomsday event or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

“There will be another cycle,” says E. Wyllys Andrews V, director of the Tulane University Middle American Research Institute (MARI). “We know the Maya thought there was one before this, and that implies they were comfortable with the idea of another one after this.”

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