Andrea M.

The Truth About the Maya

The ancient Maya were extremely interesting and surprisingly complex people. It is because of this complexity that people have many misconceptions about the Maya and the 12/21/12 end of the current Bak'tun cycle. There are many great articles you should read on this site that states very eloquently how the world will NOT end when the Maya calendar “ends” on 12/21/12. However, some articles are very technical and some have told me they just want the 'nitty gritty' in terms they can understand. As someone who has a passion for ancient history, who has studied the Maya civilization for a few years… let me give you that nitty gritty as I see it through what I have studied. Hopefully it will put your minds at ease.

The Maya Calendar ends on 12/21/12

This statement that has been passed around the news media and other outlets looking to sensationalize the story is mostly false. The calendar itself is not ending… only the current cycle. The 13th Bak'tun. The calendar itself continues on, into the next cycle. The Maya had many complex ways of counting… this is only the end of one cycle of their long count. However, the calendar continues beyond this cycle.

There is a calendar, older than the one in question, found last year in Xultun, Guatemala. The Xultun site was originally found in 1915 and was explored since that period, but it was in 2011 when a full calendar of events were found in some ruins on all the walls, and even the ceiling. Some of the events describe things that happened in the year 814… however, it describes 17 bak'tun worth of events. We are coming to the end of the 13th Bak'tun. Obviously, the author(s) of this series of calendar hieroglyphs believed there were more events to come after the completion of the 13th Bak'tun. A single bak'tun is approximately 400 years. If they were looking at 17 bak'tun, and we are at 13… that means they were looking at approximately 1600 years beyond 2012. That brings us to the year 3612. This is not the only future date found in Maya artifacts.

Great King Pakal

The great king Pakal is one of the most famous kings of the Maya period, mostly thanks to his elaborate tomb and the inscriptions on his sarcophagus and on the temple walls.. K’inich Janaab Pakal was born in 603 and died in 683 at the age of 80.

When his tomb was found in a Maya temple, there was a series of elaborate inscriptions. Mostly dealing with his date of birth and the date of coronation to king, and many of the events that happened during his rein. One inscription discusses a great celebration to occur in what has been translated by Maya scholars to be October 21st 4772. This date falls on the anniversary of King Pakal's ascension to the throne. It is also believed he will return to rein again on this date. This was an important day for Maya and their descendants as he was one of the most beloved kings.

If the Maya believed the world was ending in 2012… this date would be of little to no significance as there would be no descendants alive to know or care who the great King Pakal was. There would be no artifacts remaining to teach any “new creations” of the “new world” who he was (if a new world was created), there would be no guarantee the “new creations” would accept Pakal as their king. This leads one to believe the Maya believed this world would still exist, where Pakal was relevant, and there would be descendants left to know who he was and celebrate this momentous occasion.

In all the inscriptions in the temple where king Pakal was entombed… there was no mention of 2012. They talked about many dates from his birth. all the way through the 4772 date. not once is there a mention of cataclysmic events. No mentions of the world being destroyed, no mention of this world ending and another beginning. It seems to go from his date of birth, straight through to 4772 without a break, without a word of destruction, without a sigh of 12/21/12.

So now we have 2 dates we know beyond 2012. the year 3612, and 4772. Other dates have been noted, but are not as heavily reported on.

The Maya Were Precise People

If you look at the Maya writings, they were extremely precise about what was going to happen, and when. Looking at the inscription in the temple where King Pakal was laid to rest: “12 years, 3 months and 8 days after K’inich Janaab Pakal was born on 8 Ahau, 13 Pop, he was crowned on 5 Lamat, 1 Mol…. 4,172 years and 128 days later it will happen [again], 5 Lamat 1 Mol. One p’iktun later: the day 5 Lamat 1 Mol with occur 8 days after the 10 Ahau 13 Yaxkin period ending.” (Translating to Oct. 21st, 4772)

You really can't get more to the point than that. It wasn't a matter of, “thousands of years in the future, he'll rule again”. It wasn't “People will think of him now and again”; it was an extremely precise “on this date, of this time, of this year he was crowned, and on this date this many days, this many years, this many hours later he will be celebrated”. It was specific.

The same can go for their accounts of solar and lunar eclipses. They were surprisingly accurate about their beliefs of when future lunar and solar eclipses would occur. They were also precise in their writings of these predictions. It was again, on this date, of this year at this time. The Maya kept historical records of when the best days to plant was, when the best days to harvest would come around, they even had predictions for days when battles would be most successful. They were extremely detailed when it came to keeping records of past, present and even future events that would effect them and their descendants. They even specifically ended the 13th bak'tun cycle on 12/21/12.

It begs the question. If so detailed, so precise, so descriptive of EVERYTHING, including the mundane, how could anyone who is a Maya scholar seriously believe when it came to the end of days, the Maya would suddenly be vague, and for the most part, quiet about what they thought would happen leading up to this day, what they felt would happen on that day, and what they felt would happen after that day occurred. There is nothing.

The main calendar in question states that on what has been debate ably interpreted as 12/21/12 (debate ably, because some argue this date is inaccurate), then it states something about gods descending, but what they planned on doing is eroded. However, the hieroglyphs leading up to the gods descending provide no doom or gloom beliefs. There is no mention of cataclysmic events, no mention of world wide destruction.

The second artifact found that mentions the 2012 date was more mundane. It was mostly a narrative about political events. While making reference to the 2012 dates, it makes no prophecies at all.

These are the only known artifacts found that make reference to 2012, the end of the 13th Bak'tun cycle. For a people who were so specific about everything, including when they planted and harvested, why would they suddenly become so mysterious? Why would they get so quiet? The answer is, perhaps they didn't believe anything more significant than the cycle ending and rolling in to the next cycle would happen.

There are several references to dates beyond 2012 that have been found, (again… 2 of the most notarized is the 3612 inscription on a 3rd calendar found, and the 4772 inscription in the temple where King Pakal was entombed was found), there are no references to apocalyptic events, no cataclysmic events foretold in any artifact, and only TWO (known) references to 2012 found. You would think if they believed that 12/21/12 was a great end, the end to all things… they would have been just a little less interested in future dates, and a little more interested in filling their descendants in on the details of how and when the end would occur. You would feel there would be more artifacts found. Like the ruins of Xultun where the 3rd calendar was found, and the temple of Pakal, you would think there would be walls and ceilings filled with references to 2012 and how things would end. Even the calendars that reference 2012 are lacking any information beyond, this is when the cycle will end. This would lead to one believing they did not expect the world to end. Only this bak'tun, moving into the next cycle.

Where did 2012 Doomsday Come From?

The one thing that is evident, the doomsday did not seem to come from the Maya. There are no artifacts that talk about impending disasters, there are no artifacts that point to cataclysmic events that will occur, there are no artifacts that come out and say point blank, “on the date when the cycle of the 13th Bak'tun ends, the world as well shall cease to exist”. There is none of this from the Ancient Maya themselves. Even descendants of the Maya, the modern Maya, do not buy into the end of world theories.

Many of these theories came centuries after the fall of the ancient civilization, and were created by non-Maya “researchers”. Some researchers, (in more modern dates they are new-agers, mystics, psychics and pseudo-scientists) try to find a reason for the specific date of 12/21/12. It had to have more significance than simply the ending of the cycle. There had to be more to it. So they take very Western beliefs (the end of the world was not really a Maya belief, it was a Western thing) and apply it to fill in the blanks of that date.

It also comes from a lack of understanding of the story of their creation (the Popol Vuh) and the Dresden Codex. Let me touch on those two items quickly.

The Popol Vuh

The Popol Vuh is the story of the Maya's creation. It started when the animals were created in the first world, however they could not praise their gods, they could only crow and growl. So the gods began to create man. The first attempt were men of mud. These men crumbled easily, and they absorbed water so they would begin to become deformed and because of this they could only mumble and could not praise their gods. So the gods allowed them to simply dissolve till they were no more. The next attempt was when the gods created men of wood. These men were sturdy and strong and did not crumble and fall apart. However, they were soulless and had no heart, so after time they forgot their gods, mistreated the creations the gods made, and would not praise the gods. So the gods brought forth a great flood to destroy some of the men of wood. Others were eaten by the animals they mistreated, and still others escaped to the trees to avoid the floods, and became monkeys (which is why it is believed monkeys resemble humans so closely). (some state it took 13 bak'tun to complete this cycle.)

It was when this 13th bak'tun was completed and rolled into the next cycle that the gods created the men of this world out of Maize (corn) which became the Maya's sacred food. These men were strong, they were handsome, they properly praised their gods as they had hearts and souls. The gods were pleased. They finally created men that were to their satisfaction, these were the men they had envisioned and they were happy. As these men slept, the gods created for them, wives, and thus came the creations of this world and their descendants.

That is the long and short of the creation story (there is much more to it, including the hero twins, and other stories. But this is the general gist of it.) It is because of these believed 13 bak'tun periods of the previous creations, that many latch onto the theory that this world will end after the 13th bak'tun.

The Popol Vuh does not mention this as a possibility. It makes no prophecy of what would happen to this creation. It was merely a tale of how we got here. The only thing we can take away from the Popol Vuh without imparting our own personal beliefs on the book, is that there were 3 previous creations the gods were unhappy with for one reason or another and they were considered failed attempts. That was why they were destroyed, because they were failures. It was the creation of this world that was decided to be a success. Since we are successful, there is no reason to believe the ancient Maya would consider this world would be destroyed. Only the failed attempts were destroyed, but at the end of the Popol Vuh when this world was created, the gods were finally happy. One would think then, the end of this bak'tun would be a celebration as it would be a reminder of the Maya creation story and how we got to where we are.

The Dresden Codex


Above is the last page of the Dresden Codex. Many believe this depicts a great flood that will wipe out the world at the end of this Bak'tun.

Let me state a few things.

The main players in this photo:

A Caiman (the dragon looking thing)
Dark Sky and Dark Earth (the two symbols on either side of the woman, pouring water on the woman)
The woman who is believed to be Ixchel, goddess of life, birth, renewal and cleansing
The man in black is believed to be god L – the god of war, wealth and black magic. (here he is dressed as a warrior.)

If you notice, at the top of the codex, many of the hieroglyphs are eroded. Here is my problem with the theory that this depicts a catastrophic flood. If you notice, in the black circle and in areas surrounding it… there's no water. There's no water on the ground, there's no water on the sides, there's no water gushing around, there are no people being swept away by the floods. It's actually, all things considered, “dry” in most of the codex.

Looking in the white square, there is the dark earth and dark sky, on either side of Ixchel, pouring water forth, only onto her back. One can say dark sky is pouring water into her basin, which is falling onto the head of god L. The dark earth is pouring water onto the back of the goddess, but it doesn't spill from her back. In fact, it wraps around her waist like a hug. No one is quite certain what dark earth and dark sky represent. Some believe it's cataclysmic events, however, others believe it could represent the eclipse that proceeds whatever Ixchel is there to do, and follows that event. There was a lunar eclipse on Nov. 28th 2012 and the next is scheduled for April 2013. Proceeding and following 2012.

Now, remember that Ixchel is the goddess of birth and renewal. Let us look at god L who is wearing the guise of the warrior. (he is the god of war, wealth and black magic.) to me it seems the water is almost attacking god L. The water isn't spilling onto the earth, it's spilling on his head as depicted in the yellow triangle. If you look at the pink arrow, his arm is stretched out, against the water pouring from the dragon as if he is keeping it at bay. Could the goddess of renewal be cleansing the god of war? Could this codex be prophesying the new age theory of renewal in a new age? Or could it not be a prophecy at all, but an artistic depiction of the Popol Vuh? Because of the erosion of some of the hieroglyphs, no one really knows for sure. It is mostly, anyone's best educated guess. When things such as this is left up to interpretation, anyone can use it as proof their theory is correct.


There is no Maya artifact that comes out and talks about the end of the world. The ONLY artifact that talks about a destruction of any kind is the Popol Vuh, and the destruction really only relates to the failed creations. There is no prophecy of destruction related to the creations looked at as being successful (this creation.)

There are MANY artifacts that discuss dates beyond 2012. With as precise and detailed as the Maya were about every facet of their lives, I can not imagine why they would pay attention to future dates and make little to no attention of this date if they felt the world was going to end. You would think there are more artifacts relating to this date than there would be future dates.

Much of the 2012 hysteria comes from that lack of information and the desire to explain the reasoning that we have not yet been able to find. When we insert our own mythologies, religious or new age beliefs on an ancient civilization, we come with a skewed representation of what they really believed. If the Maya thought this was the end… with as detailed as they were, I'm sure they would have said so. They did not. The only conclusion I can draw from the lack of information is that they considered this the end of a cycle that will roll over into a new cycle, that will roll over into a new cycle and so on down the line.

If the world was going to end… I think it would come as a surprise to King Pakal who is expecting to party like it's 4772.

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