Mayan elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun is so over being asked about the end of the world. "I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff," Pixtun says. But it doesn't look as though the frantic anxiety about the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 is going to let up anytime soon. With a blockbuster film entitled 2012 on the way and new websites being dedicated to the impending apocalypse every day, now, more than ever, the idea seems to be gaining momentum.
But Chile Pixtun says the doomsday theories actually have their genesis in Western and not Mayan ideas. Although 2012 does mark the end of asignificant time period for the Mayas and there are a series of astronomical alignments that coincide in 2012 (including one that happens only once every25,800 years), it does not mean that the Mayan believed the world would end on this date. End of days and apocalyptic ideas are mostly grounded in Western and Christian theories, while the Mayans believe in a more cyclical aspect of time.
So where did all this hysteria begin? With Monument Six. Found in the 1960s, Monument Six is a stone tablet which is almost undecipherable but contains an inscription indicating that some sort of larg event will occur in 2012 in relation to Bolon Yokte, the Mayangod of war and creation.
The Mayan civilization, at its apex from 300 A.D. to 900 A.D., were able to calculate accurate astronomical alignments and created calendars which are more precise than the Greco-Romancalendar currently in use. Their calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., and marks time in394-year periods known as Baktuns. The number thirteen is sacrednumber to the Mayas and the 13th Baktun ends around Dec. 21, 2012.
David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin tells the NY Times, "It'sa special anniversary of creation. The Maya neversaid the world is going to end, they never said anything bad wouldhappen necessarily, they're just recording this future anniversary onMonument Six."