What the ancient Maya really anticipated: The 2012 Phenomenon and December 21

Speculation about what ancient Maya have to say about 2012 is becoming a global phenomenon in popular culture. These speculations — largely apocalyptic and uninformed — are often based on a superficial acquaintance with Western historical interpretations rather than a familiarity with Maya texts and culture.

On Nov. 5, Dr. John B. Carlson will approach the 2012 phenomenon through an examination of Maya sources considered within the contexts of ancient and contemporary Maya culture, as well as Western scholarship. In an HMNS Distinguished Lecture, he will focus on images of mythological events depicted on two Late Classic Maya vessels, including the enigmatic “Vase of the Seven Gods.” These images are interpreted as representing deities gathered in “cosmogonic conclave,” preparing to re-create the world with their sacrifices at the last completion of a Great Cycle and the beginning of a new 5,125-year, 13-baktun Maya “long count.”

K2796Maya God L at the creation event

The rites of passage are presided over by an enigmatic Venus warrior/sacrificer deity previously known only as “God L.” God L’s principal name and nature had remained a mystery, and his identity obscure, until the image above was deciphered. This study offers an explication of why God L — who is portrayed as the Maya god of tobacco, among other aspects — takes the senior role in presiding over these 13 baktun completion rituals and why it is reasonable to hypothesize that the ancient Maya would have anticipated that the same entities would return again for the fulfillment of the present long count cycle on December 21, 2012 to re-animate the world.

For tickets to see Dr. Carlson speak at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5, click here. This lecture is included in a course co-sponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.

blog - Maya, John CarlsonJohn B. Carlson, Ph.D.

About lecturer John B. Carlson:
John B. Carlson, a radio and extragalactic astronomer by training, is the Director of the Center for Archaeoastronomy, a non-profit institute for research and education related to interdisciplinary studies of the astronomical practices, celestial lore, religions and world-views of ancient civilizations and contemporary indigenous cultures of the world.In this capacity, Dr. Carlson is an expert on Native American astronomy specializing in studies of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and is the Editor-in-Chief of the ARCHAEOASTRONOMY Journal published by the University of Texas Press.

The art, iconography, calendar systems and hieroglyphic writing of the Maya and Highland Mexican civilizations are particular interests, and the “archaeology of pilgrimage” is a current special research interest. Researches into ancient and contemporary Maya calendars and the “2012 Phenomenon” have been areas of Carlson’s expertise for more than 30 years. Dr. Carlson is Senior Lecturer in the University Honors College, University of Maryland – College Park, where he teaches courses in Astronomy, Anthropology and the History of Science.