Saturday, July 14, 2012

Secrets of the Maya... and the End of the World

A heavy stone wheel, engraved with inscrutable hieroglyphs, spins in the night sky. “If you believe the Maya calendar, on December 21 polar shifts will reverse the Earth’s gravitational pull and hurtle us all into space,” we hear Matt Damon say. But just in case the Maya were wrong, Damon assures us, TD Ameritrade has some great 401(k) options.

Then there’s the Chevy Super Bowl ad: a man drives a pickup through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. A newspaper headlined “2012 MAYAN APOCALYPSE” clings to the remnants of a traffic light. “Where’s Dave?” the driver asks another survivor. “Dave drove a Ford,” his friend answers, as dead frogs rain from the sky.

The apocalypse is everywhere. In commercials, movies like 2012 and Apocalypto, even a Saturday Night Live skit with Katy Perry. “Independent researcher” John Major Jenkins sells books with titles like Maya Cosmogenesis 2012. On the website, the Deluxe 2-Person Survival Kit retails for $98.99.

What gets lost in all this noise is the ancient Maya themselves. We keep hearing that their calendar predicted the world’s end on Dec. 21, 2012—due to astrological alignment, Jesus, or aliens, depending on whom you ask. But what did the Maya really believe?

Until recently, that question was impossible to answer. That’s because our knowledge of the ancient Maya—a vast civilization that colonized Mesoamerica long before Europeans arrived—has long lagged behind that of other ancient peoples. For centuries, Maya hieroglyphs were almost completely unreadable. Only in the past three decades have researchers deciphered 90 percent of the glyphs.

“Maya studies today is where Egyptology was in the 19th century,” says UT professor David Stuart, the world’s leading Maya epigrapher, or hieroglyph reader. “We’re really just beginning to discover who they were.”

So what did the Maya say about 2012? “The truth,” Stuart says, “is more amazing than the fiction.”

For the answer visit Secrets of the Maya

Source: The Alcalde

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