Contrary to popular opinion, the world will not end in 2012, said an expert on Mayan civilization – in fact, the Mayans themselves didn’t believe it would.
Wednesday evening, the Latino Cultural Center, the Native American Education and Cultural Center and the Diversity Resource Office jointly hosted “The Ancient Mayas and the Prophecy of 2012: Myth or Doom?,” a presentation centered around the oft-cited Mayan prophecy foretelling the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012.
The presentation was given by L. Antonio Curet, a visiting professor of anthropology and expert on ancient Mesoamerican civilizations. With more than 150 students in attendance, seats filled and students lining the walls, Curet spoke at length about the origins of the
prophecy, and why modern interpreters of ancient Mayan prophecies might want to take a second look at their sources.
The center of the prophecy lies in the Mayan calendar system, Curet said. According to the Mayan calendar, which rotates on roughly 5,000-year cycles, Dec. 21 marks the end of the current cycle, and the beginning of the next one.
This shift is of particular interest to amateur prophets because, according to the calendar, the end of a cycle was regarded by the Mayans as the rebirth of the world. What is often overlooked, however, is that the Mayans never prophesied an end of the world.
“The Mayans didn’t like prophecies,” Curet said. “There are hardly any prophecies in (Mayan civilization).”
In contrast to common perception, Curet speculates that the Mayans probably would have seen the beginning of the new cycle as a cause for celebration.
“On Dec. 21st, the Mayans are going to celebrate a new beginning,” Curet said.
Rahul Balla and Josh Barnes, both freshman in the College of Engineering, thought the presentation was interesting, and were surprised that the prophecy was largely fabricated.
“It’s pretty interesting that western culture (is the source of most of the prophecies),” Barnes said. “The most ironic part is that tons of Americans are going to be waiting for the world end, but the Mayans are going to be celebrating.”
“I was pretty happy to hear that (the world) wasn’t going to end,” Balla said.
Despite all the world-ending talk, Curet ended his presentation with on a humorous note.
“The world is not going to end of Dec. 21,” Curet said. “If it does, come and sue me.”