Will Mayan Calendar "Roll Over," Or Not?


By Jay Michaels

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) People may have been predicting the end of the world since shortly after human society first began. And all the hoopla over the Mayan calendar cycle that ends this Friday, may very well be a really big misunderstanding.

A local anthropology professor says the modern day descendants of the original Maya people are amused at folks these days. That's because some of us are taking the Mayan "Long Count" – which lasts about five thousand years – out of context. He says the Maya thought time began sometime in October 3114 B.C.

Jim Woods, Anthropology Professor from the College of Southern Idaho, says, "What's significant about that date, I don't know. The Maya just said that's Day One, that's when time started. And from that date 3114 B.C., every day counted as one. That's called the Long Count."

Woods says Maya scholars probably developed the Baktun or "Long Count" sometime before 800 or 900 A.D. He says the Maya had a religious calendar that was 260 days long, and a secular calendar the same length as our modern year. Woods says those two calendars would line up exactly every 52 years, which the Maya considered an average lifetime.

Woods says, "The number 20 was important, every month was 20 days long. 20 times 20, 20 months of 20 would be 400 days. 400 times 20 would be 8,000 days, and so on to infinity."

As a result, woods says the Maya thought of time as a series of cycles that kept repeating over and over again. He says they predicted disasters well into the future, well past the date of December 21, 2012.

Woods says, "So it's not like this is a date that keeps popping up time and time and time again. It's just something that's happened during our lifetime, so it's attracted our attention and it's become a big deal. But to a lot of the Maya people, it's no big deal."

Of course, you could always do what all the rest of us do when the calendar runs out, and just buy a new calendar for the next year.

Dec. 18, 2012.

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