Mayan Prediction? GPC Prof Says Buy A 2013 Calendar

12/17/2012
Contact: Rebecca Rakoczy
Phone: 678-891-2691
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Rebecca Rakoczy

For Immediate Release 

The Australians will be among the first to know if the Maya were right.

“They’re already building underground shelters there,” says Ernie Guyton.

Guyton, a Georgia Perimeter College anthropology professor, is talking about the ancient Mayan Long Calendar, which predicts the end of the world on Dec. 21. Those on the other side of the world, including Australia, will awaken first to this date—if they awaken at all, that is. (Listen to Guyton discuss this prediction during WABE 90.1’s “City Café at 12 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20.)

“Will Dec. 21 be a horrific cataclysmic end-of-days event for the human species? A positive spiritual or societal transformation? Or just another day in the life of our planet?” Those are the questions Guyton poses in lectures on the topic.  

The fascination exists around the prediction found a few years ago in hieroglyphics on a tablet near a Mayan monument in Tortuguero, Mexico. It foretells that “the 13th Bak’tun will be finished on four ajaw, the third of Uniiw ... It will be the descent of the nine support gods to …” 

What does it all mean?

Guyton explains that a Bak’tun equals 394 years and that Dec. 21, 2012, marks—approximately—the end of the 13th Bak’tun, a span of 5,126 years from the beginning of Mayan time.

The parts of the tablet that actually say “what happens” and what  actually “will descend” relating to this date have eroded over time, making it indecipherable, says Guyton.

Interestingly, he adds, the present day Maya as a whole don’t attach much significance to the end of the Bak’tun 13, nor do classic period hieroglyphics give it much due. And the Maya haven’t used the long calendar since the classic Mayan civilization died out around 900 C.E.

Guyton quotes Mayan ethnographer Jose Huchm as saying, “If I went to any Maya-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in (Dec.) 2012, they wouldn’t have any idea. That the world was going to end? They wouldn’t believe you. We have real concerns, like rain.”

But that hasn’t stopped people from writing books and making their own predictions of what the Maya meant by the end of the 13th Bak’tun. 

Guyton notes that the collapse of the classical Maya civilization left the Dec. 21, 2012, date in obscurity for more than 500 years. “The subject of the end times doesn’t come up again until the 16th century,” he says. He sees a correlation between the revival of this legend with the Spanish colonization of Central America and a renewal of Maya’s cultural desire to reclaim their heritage, one now influenced  with Christian “apocalyptic rapture” mythology.

Writings from the 16th century predict the destruction and rebirth of the nine levels of the subterranean underworld and the 13 levels of the skies, the robbery of the “great serpent,” the deterioration of the sky and the collapse of the Earth. 

Many modern-day books also have latched onto the end-of-the-world scenario, but anthropologists and archeologists view the long calendar prediction as more of a media and New Age frenzy.

Still, Guyton gets grilled by his students. “They’ve been asking about it. Some are very interested; others are nervous that world is coming to the end,” he says.

While he’s dubious about the long calendar prediction, Guyton notes that the Maya have been spot on with predicting celestial events—including the alignment of plants and constellations in the sky and the cycles of Venus and Mars. “Their solar calendar was more accurate than the European calendar at the time,” he says.

But, he cautions, “remember that we’re investing a lot of time and energy into a prediction by a people who thought the world was flat.”

And for those wondering about whether you should forgo your last-minute holiday shopping, Guyton has some advice: “I recommend investing in a 2013 calendar.”

Georgia Perimeter College, the third largest institution of the University System of Georgia, serves approximately 24,000 students through four campuses and several sites in metro Atlanta. For additional information, visit www.gpc.edu.