Newly discovered Mayan artifact provides evidence against Mayan “end-date” theory

David Maly

A newly discovered Mayan artifact, deciphered by art history professor David Stuart, provides evidence that the Mayan “end-date” theory is incorrect, and they did not predict the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012.

This past April, an ancient Mayan text was discovered along with other artifacts in the ruins of La Corona, an area in Northwestern Guatemala, by Stuart and a team of professors from Tulane University and the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. The text was later deciphered by Stuart and found to reference the ancient Mayan “end-date” of Dec. 21, 2012.

Marcello Canuto, co-director of the excavation at La Corona and Tulane anthropology professor, said the text references the “end-date” as a major time marker for the Mayan people, but in no way refers to an apocalypse of any kind.

“The 2012 date refers to an end of a very important cylindrical cycle in the Mayan calendar,” Canuto said. “It is something that will happen once every six or seven thousand years.”

Canuto said in this case, the date is referenced by a Mayan king who spoke about the power of his empire, stating that it would last as far away as Dec. 21, 2012.

The newly discovered ruin is one of only two known artifacts to reference the “end-date” at all, Canuto said.

According to a 2012 Reuters poll, one in ten Americans currently believe that the world will end on Dec. 21.

Brett Houk, Texas Tech associate professor of archeology and UT graduate, said in the world of professional archeology, the “end-date” theory has never been taken seriously, and the discovery of evidence disputing it doesn’t surprise him.

“What’s ending is just a giant calendar cycle for the Mayans,” he said.

Gregory Calderon, textiles & apparel and international relations and global studies senior, said he doesn’t take the “end-date” theory seriously, and believes most others agree with him.

“Most people just joke around, like, ‘the world’s going to end in 2012’,” he said. “I’m pretty sure most people don’t really believe it.”

Houk said the hype built up around the “end-date” theory has come from unprofessional sources such as western popular culture, which seems to have a fascination with the wisdom of ancient peoples.

Canuto said he plans to spend the next few years exploring the area and deciphering the other artifacts already found.

“We have many more texts to decipher that will deal with the political history of this region, so we are very excited about that,” he said.