Monday, September 28, 2009

The Mayan message of doomsday is not in the calendar

After a long time it was great sitting in the movie theater once again, watching movie trailers when I saw the teaser of an upcoming disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich, 2012.

The teaser showed a tsunami surging over the Himalayas together with a message suggesting the doomsday in 2012, and ended with a message to viewers to "find out the truth" by searching "2012" on search engines.

As a dilettante archaeologist and ancient art enthusiast I did it and discovered some revealing truth.

The calendar itself predict nothing but a cycle change, the end of cycle 12, and the beginning of cycle 13 (nothing spectacular will occur besides that), but the real message is in the question “why did the Mayan civilization collapse?”

First step – understanding Maya calendar

According to the outstanding translation work of Sylvanus G. Morley the Maya calendar is a system of calendars and almanacs used by ancient Maya civilization called Tonalamatl dating back to at least the 6th century BC.

The Tonalamatl is divided in three parts; the first with a period of 260 days called Tzolk’in combining the name of 20 days with smaller cycles of other 13 days. Tzolk'in is integrated with a second calendar called Haab’ with 365 days distributed in 18 months of 20 days plus a small month of 5 days. Both calendar together perform a cycle of 52 years.

A different form of calendar was used to track longer periods of time, the third part is called “long count calendar” used to track longer periods of time is based upon the number of elapsed days since a mythological starting-point.

The long count calendar is a combination of 5 cycles:

First – the day cycles called Kin that starts on day 0 and goes to day 19. When Kin period reaches the day 0 again it moves one grade of the Unial cycle.

Second – Unial cycle has 17 grades, and when Unial reaches the grade 0 again it moves one grade of Tun cycle.

Third – Tun cycle has 19 grades, and when Tun reaches the grade 0 again it moves one grade of the Katun cycle.

Fourth – Katun cycle also has 19 grades, and when Katun reaches grade 0 again it moves on grade of the great cycle (here called simple “cycle”).

It may be confusing, but let’s try to understand it in a practical way.

The stelae A is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Stelae located in Copán, It portrays the 13th ruler of Copán Waxaklajun Ub'aah K'awiil (18 Rabbit, see Maya ruler genealogy) carrying a two-headed centipede bar that is symbolically giving birth to sun deities.

The inscription on west side of Stela A outlines the erection of the monument on the date of 12 Ahaw 18 Cumku, and there is also a long count date, which makes clear the date of January 28th, 731 AD. Let’s translate it.

Now, let’s organize it in a Tonalamatl table, we obseve that it is an initial day of a new Unial (period of 19 Kins).

If we compare with the date that I am supposed to publish this article, September 30th, 2009 we can understand how a date in Mayan calendar goes forward.

We are now three Cylces ahead from the date of stelae A of Cópan (from 9 to 12), representing the difference of 1.935.905 days from that date to today.

Now, let’s see the table for December 21st, 2012, the so called Dooms date.

It represents the exact change of Cycle 12 to Cycle 13, you may noticed that it is also the beginning of a new Kin, Unial, Tun and Katun. But, how about Tzolk’in and Haab?

As we can see, Kankin third is not the last day of Haab’ cycle, as well as Ahau fourth is not the last day also.]

Ok, it is not the end for now but, what would happen when we reach the last grade of all cycles? I have the answer – it will be the beginning of a new cycle – just that.

As Stevie Wonder would say “When you believe in things that you don't understand. Then you suffer....superstition ain't the way”.

In other hand, the research about this Maya doomsday brought something appalling and terrible; we are repeating the same mistakes that lead Mayan culture to a total collapse. Will we face the same fate?

Maya civilization warning about the end of the world

We should not be afraid about of the end of Maya twelfth cycle period, but we should pay attention to the message that they really left to mankind.

According to NASA archaeologist Tom Sever, the Mayan civilization in Mesoamerica was one of the densest populations in human history; Mayan population reached an all-time high. Population density ranged from 500 to 700 people per square mile in the rural areas, and from 1,800 to 2,600 people per square mile near the center of the Mayan Empire (in what is now northern Guatemala and Yucatan peninsula in Mexico).

As we, Mayans was not worried about environmental impact of their accomplishments, but differently from us today, they did not know what they were doing.

They make use of intensive agricultural methods included canals, terracing, raised fields, ridged fields, chinampas, the use of human faeces as fertilizer, etc.

The agricultural techniques utilized by the Maya were entirely dependent upon ample supplies of water.

They also clear the rainforest to create space for new cities and they need firewood to burn a high quality plaster floor that they used to put together the stones of temples.

Pollen samples collected from columns of soil that archeologists have excavated across the region provide evidence of widespread deforestation approximately 1,200 years ago they would have needed about 20 trees to build a fire large and hot enough to make a plaster floor stone that is about one square meter. In the earliest ruins, these stones were a foot or more thick, but they progressively got thinner.

The most recently built ones were only a few inches thick.” Sever’s colleague, atmospheric scientist Bob Oglesby of Marshall Space Flight Center, calls the Mayan deforestation episode “the granddaddy of all deforestation events.” Studies of settlement remains show that this deforestation coincided with a dramatic drop in the Mayan population.

The Maya civilization perished because of intense deforestation and the consequent environmental damage.

After the Mayan collapse, this area was abandoned and the forest recovered. But as people have returned over the last three decades, the deforestation has returned.

The good point of that panorama is that we still have the power to avoid doomsday to occur, we know exactly what we have to do.

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