Friday, May 11, 2012

Please Stop Predicting Mayan Doomsday Even Harder

You are hopefully aware that the world will not end this December, despite some people's best efforts. You are hopefully aware that the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar terminating on December 21 does not portend the end of the world.

According to an excavation of an ancient Mayan city, Xultan in Guatemala, that took place last year, now you can be aware that the Mayans didn't stop their calendar in 2012 at all; the calendar found stretches some 7,000 years into the future (though if that's 7,000 years counting from now or from when the calendar was made is unclear from the article). And if they were projecting anyone's end days, they weren't projecting ours. They were projecting their own- or trying desperately to project anything but their own. The calendar found dates to about 75 years before the collapse of Xultan, after the Mayan culture had already started falling. The whole point of a Long Count calendar, or any other cycle-based calendar, was to show that no matter what cataclysm befell a people, tomorrow will still start on schedule. The world will still go on.

That's what the Mayans were trying to tell themselves. Things will be okay. Remember that back then, following lunar cycles was a fact of day-to-day life. They based their economy around it; their crops around it. The National Geographic writeup describes it as their equivalent of the stock market. They were trying to find the point where the market bottomed out and started recovering.

For them, it bottomed out right around zero. For us, well... now you know why Greece has regressed to a barter economy.

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