Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In the beginning.......when?

Wikipedia states that 11th or 13th August 3114 BC, was the date from which the Mayan Long Count calendar started (rectified to the way we presently count time). It's from this date that their now famous cycle began - the one that ends on 21 December 2012.

In the words of The Bard, "aye, there's the rub".

I've gathered that the date in mid-August was selected by Mayan astrologers, astrononmers and calendar constructors due to the position of the Milky Way in the skies over their part of the world at that point on their calendar.
August 13, 3114 BC is as precise and accurate as one can get for a beginning of history: the first Egyptian dynasty is dated to ca 3100 BC; the first 'city,' Uruk, in Mesopotamia, also ca 3100 BC; the Hindu Kali Yuga, 3102 BC; and most interestingly, the division of time into 24 hours of 60 minutes each and each minute into 60 seconds [and the division of the circle into 360 degrees], also around 3100 BC, in Sumeria.
If the beginning of history was so accurately placed, then must not the end of history, December 21, 2012 also be as accurate?
See here.
But that surely refers to the start of some level of human civilisation. The Earth and solar system are estimated to have formed some 4.6 billion years ago. That was "creation" proper.

If we are talking about the start of history, or civilisation, as a date from which to begin making a count based on the positions and cycles of the stars and planets, any date settled upon is nebulous at best. Why would cycles, based on the position of celestial bodies, start from some arbitrary point when humans had become sufficiently sophisticated to set themselves into some semblance of organisation? Cycles began at the time the Earth and our solar system began. 2012, or any other date calculated from any calendar of any ancient civilisation, simply form a part of their civilisation's myth and legend, nothing more.

I'm a mere lay-person, and have probably either missed the point, or grabbed a hold of the wrong end of the ancient stick. Still, it's something worth considering. Think, also, how much money has been accumulated by authors and TV presentations, and movies, based on this (probable) myth involving 2012.


Rossa said...

And no doubt we'll be bombarded with lots of doomsday scenarios like we were for Y2K. There are movies coming out all over the place using this subject to put the fear, of whatever God you believe in, into people.

Even the experts disagree on when the Long Count calendar actually ends. The Maya had several calendars that they used for different things like the 365 day Haab calendar which was the seasonal one for crops and the 260 day Sacred Calendar that is supposed to go back to the beginning of creation and covers the development of consciousness in the human race.

Regardless of what happens on 21 Dec 2012 what I find fascinating is that the Maya were able to create these calendars to go both backward and forward in time. Clearly well versed in astronomy/astrology the Maya were very sophisticated for a "primitive" race (compared to our so called civilisation).

There is a lot of info out there and it is hard to know where the truth lies and until we get to 22 Dec 2012 maybe we will not know til then. One website I like is calleman.com which goes against the mainstream 21 Dec date (it's 28 Oct 2011 for them) and seems to have got support from Don Alejandro Oxlaj, head of the council of elders of the Maya.

No doubt there are others who will claim support from other Mayan elders so there's nothing to say this one is right or wrong. As the old saying goes.....only time will tell.

In the meantime I'm up for the ride, how about you?

Twilight said...

Hi Rossa ~~~ Yes it certainly is amazing that such an early civilisation reached that level of knowledge about celestial cycles.

But even they couldn't know for sure from what point their calendar, purporting to start at "creation proper", should begin (in my uninformed opinion).

That being so throws any indication of cycles end dates into question.

Now, if those early peoples were privy to some source of information now lost to us, it could put a different spin on things. But that sends us into the realms of fantasy and sci-fi (I rather wish it didn't though!)

At the moment my view is that 21 Dec 2012 will be no different from any other date in our calendars. If it does indeed end some cycle or other, then any results will be so gradual that we just won't be aware of them - our descendants several centuries ahead might just be able to see when things began to change though.

Yes, I did skim through some stuff by Calleman and noticed that alternative date in 2011. same applies to that though (for me anyway.):-)

I'm up for anything that comes along, I guess, 'cos as the late lamented Bill Hicks used to tell us, "It's just a ride".

Shawn Carson said...

and is it part of the mayan myth that this date should coincide with the end of the world?

anthonynorth said...

It will be interesting to see if the Doomsday scenario does take hold for 2012. I'd be surprised if it doesn't.

Twilight said...

Shawn ~~~ I don't think the idea of end-of-world in 2012 comes directly from Mayan sources, but I'm not certain.

Other cycles in their long-count calendar have ended and the world rolled on, much as normal. I think this particular cycle, about to end in 2012 might have been thought to have special significance because it's the last in their list - but I understand there are other dates from Mayan sources with extend far, far beyond 2012. I doubt they expected the world to end in 2012.

Twilight said...

Anthonynorth ~~~ I'm sure a lot of people will try to cash in on the idea.

It will be another General Election year in the USA, so by December 21st we'll have either a new President or a 2nd term of the current one. That'll make the year pretty exciting, without anything else!

Rossa said...

Lucky us. You get an election, we get the Olympics!!

So 2012 is going to be an interesting year anyway without the end of the world to top it off, or is that top us off...lol

I'm of a similar persuasion to yourself that it may be the end of a cycle but that the effects may not be immediately obvious. The same argument is had over when the Age of Aquarius begins. Now or in the next 200 yaers.

I can only imagine that in another 2000 years our descendants will look back on us as the primitive people and have a good laugh at some of the antics we get up to.

Twilight said...

Rossa ~~~ Yes, indeed, it'll be an eventful year without embellishment from the Mayans. :-)