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Mayan Calendar and December 21, 2012

December 17, 2012

DALLAS (SMU) – Don’t feel compelled to mark every item off your bucket list just yet. 

Mayan CalendarReports that the Maya calendar calls for the end of the world Dec. 21, 2012 are inaccurate, says SMU archeologist Brigitte Kovacevich, an expert on Maya culture.

  • The Maya used a number of different calendars, which scholars interpret in different ways. One of the calendars turns over, much like an odometer, on Dec. 21 or 23, 2012. The last time that this odometer turned over in the Maya calendar – August 11, 3114 B.C. – it was an event of creation, not destruction.
  • Only two monuments out of all Maya sites refer to 2012, and they use the date as a rhetorical device, not a prediction. Other monuments predict events still thousands of years in the future.
  • The Maya text often cited as predicting the end of the world, the Dresden Codex, does not mention 2012. Another famous text, the Chilam Balam, does make dire predictions for certain period endings, but this book dates to the 15th and 16th centuries and was written after the Spanish conquest and heavily influenced by that event and Western culture.

So why the fuss?

The prophecies about 2012 are a collection of myths and legends, independent of academic scholarship, spread by television, commercial publications and digital computer networks, Kovacevich says. Not only are they inaccurate, they exploit, misrepresent and romanticize the Maya culture, she says.

About Brigitte Kovacevich

Brigitte KovacevichBrigitte Kovacevich received her B.A. from the University of Arizona and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2006. Before coming to SMU as Assistant Professor in 2009, she held visiting positions at Yale University and the University of Virginia. Her interests include the complex interplay between technology, power, economic systems, social action, and culture change in the past and present.

Courses she teaches include Meso-American Archaeology, Origins of Civilization, The Archaeology of Gender and Sexuality and Household Archaeology: The Archaeology of Everyday Life.

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