Did the Maya believe the world would end in December 2012? With MAYA 2012: Lords of Time — a world premiere exhibition opening May 5 — the Penn Museum confronts the current fascination with the year 2012, comparing predictions of a world-transforming apocalypse with their supposed origins in the ancient Maya civilization.
In recent years, the media have been filled with claims that the ancient Maya predicted a cataclysmic event at the end of their calendar. Some believe that a celestial alignment will bring a series of devastating natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, impacts with galactic objects – such as meteorites, comets, or rogue planets – and other devastations. Proponents of this theory point to unusual planetary alignments, pole shift, the existence of an invisible binary blue star, or other theories.
While the end of the Mayan calendar seems to be the main prophetic piece of evidence for these cataclysmic events, there are others, including the Bible’s last book of The Revelation to St. John, the Chinese I Ching, the quatrains of Nostradamus and even the modern-day Web bot.
Not all believe the earth will face cataclysm this December, however. There are others who argue that this event will bring positive adjustment, resulting in enlightenment and a new age of peace. As December 2012 draws closer, new predictions continue to emerge. But what did the Maya really believe?MAYA 2012 will seek to show visitors exactly this.
The Maya excelled in art, architecture, astronomy, and mathematics — developing a calendar system that amazes and intrigues to this day. The exhibition invites the visitor to explore the ancient Maya’s complex, interlocking calendar systems, which were based on an advanced understanding of astronomy and the night sky.
Their most elaborate system, the Long Count, encompasses trillions of years, and one of its important cycles comes to a close on December 23, 2012 (some scholars say December 21, 2012). This is the origin of the Maya 2012 end of the world phenomenon. Highlights of this section include an immersive re-creation of a Maya pyramid, and opportunities to create your own Maya name in hieroglyphs and to calculate your birthdate within the Maya calendar.
Throughout the exhibition, visitors are able to meet experts on the ancient Maya to hear their perspectives through a series of interviews. In the final section of the exhibition, several Maya people speak for themselves, sharing their perspectives on the end of the world predictions — and on the contemporary concerns of the Maya.
Tickets go on sale tomorrow, February 1; the exhibition runs through January 13, 2013. For more information on the exhibit, click here.
Source: Penn Museum