The Maya Calendar, if you recall, said we were all going to die on 21 December, 2012 in an apocalypse, or Doomsday, or whatever description you use for the end of the world.
However, it never happened. Although it caused such a hubbub that NASA felt it necessary to state that we were still alive.
The Maya connection “was a misconception from the very beginning,” said John B Carlson, director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy at Maryland University, Baltimore. “The Maya calendar did not end on December 21, 2012, and there were no Maya prophecies foretelling the end of the world on that date,” he said at the time.
That, according to one scientist, is because everyone was reading the Maya Calendar incorrectly.
“Following the Julian Calendar, we are technically in 2012,” scientist and Fulbright scholar Paolo Tagaloguin told The Sun.
“The number of days lost in a year due to the shift into Gregorian Calendar is 11 days,” Tagaloguin was reported to have said.
“For 268 years using the Gregorian Calendar (1752-2020) times 11 days = 2,948 days. 2,948 days / 365 days (per year) = eight years”.
Based on the calculations, the exact date of the apocalypse is scheduled for 21 June – Sunday.
Now for some people, the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic shutdown has prepared us for such an event.
The lost once great civilisation of the Maya is where the rainforests of Mesoamerica now stand. The people of Maya society built vast cities, ornate temples, and towering pyramids. At its peak around 800 AD, the population numbered more than 2,000 people per square mile in the cities. The Maya mastered astronomy, developed an elaborate written language, and left behind exquisite artifacts.
Most compelling to many is the Maya’s expansive sense of time.
“The times Mayas used dwarf any time scales currently used by modern astronomers,” Carlson said. “According to our science, the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago. There are dates and time references in Mayan ruins that stretch back a billion billion times farther than that.”
The complex Maya Long Count Calendar was designed to keep track of such long intervals. Written using modern typography, the Long Count Calendar resembles the odometer in a car. It’s a modified base-20 system in which rotating digits represent powers of 20 days. Because the digits rotate, the calendar can “roll over” and repeat itself; this repetition is key to the 2012 phenomenon.
According to Maya theology, the world was created 5,125 years ago, on a date modern people would write “August 11, 3114 BC”. At the time, the Maya calendar looked like ‘126.96.36.199.0’.
On December 21, 2012, it is exactly the same: 188.8.131.52.0.
In the language of Maya scholars, 13 Bak’tuns or 13 times 144,000 days elapsed between the two dates. This was a significant interval in Maya theology, but, stressed Carlson, not a destructive one. None of the thousands of ruins, tablets, and standing stones that archeologists have examined foretell an end of the world.
There is a popular school of thought that the Mayans were not predicting the end of the world, but rather that the cut-off point on their calendar was just that – the ending of a cycle. As our grandparents threw out the old calendar each January, this was nothing more than signalling the start of a new year and a re-cycling of the human civilisation’s timekeeping system.
Astronomer Phil Plait fact-checked Paolo Tagaloguin’s claim and said the conversion math on the Julian calendar is wrong.
“Second, that doesn’t matter anyway, because the 21 December 2012 date was converted from the Maya calendar to the Gregorian one in the first place,” Plait adds. “So there’s no reason to even bring the Julian calendar into this. It doesn’t make sense.”
Paolo Tagaloguin’s Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts have ceased.