The Mayan holy place of Kukulkan, the feathered serpent and also Mayan snake deity, is seen at the archaeological site the Chichen Itza, in the southerly state the Yucatan, Mexico.

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Is the end of the civilization coming ~ above December 21? Some civilization are concerned it will, based on an old Mayan calendar that comes to an finish on that date.RFE/RL correspondent Eugen Tomiuc talked to leading Maya scholar and anthropologist Geoffrey Braswell native the college of California in mountain Diego around the Mesoamerican civilization’s time-counting science.RFE/RL: There"s a lot of of fear of -- or at least, a most interest in -- the finish of the human being coming top top December 21. Those saying the end is nigh greatly base your prophecy on the Mayan calendar, i m sorry is about to involved an end on the date. However the Mayans are recognized to have had actually various ways of counting the time. Could you sell us part details?Geoffrey Braswell: The three most essential calendars -- one is a 260-day routine year, an additional is a 365-day year and together those 2 repeat every 52 years in a huge cycle . However they also kept track of time in 20-year units referred to as katuns, and 20 katuns is a baktun. So they counting the days since creation virtually as despite your automobile counts the days or the miles of the kilometers. And also just as the old-fashioned odometers had wheels that turned, therefore did the wheel in the Mayan calendar. What"s happening right now is that we"re at a suggest where the car odometer could reset ago to every zeroes.RFE/RL: space all this still being supplied by the present-day Maya population? space they also preparing because that Doomsday?Braswell: The 260-day routine calendar has constantly been used, and also today, Maya clergymans still usage it in highland Guatemala. The 365-day year was additionally used increase to the moment of conquest and later. The lengthy Count date -- that"s the essential one for 2012 concern -- the Maya themselves quit using that part time approximately 1100 or so, possibly 1000. However, over there are documents they were making use of the various other calendars that overlapped through that, so us were able to much more or less number it out. Also, the Maya kept track of huge events, specifically lunar calendars, and those often showed up alongside the lengthy Count -- this is the variety of days because creation.

RFE/RL: therefore the prophecy is based on a calendar -- the 5,125-year long Count -- i beg your pardon the Maya stopped using a millennium ago. Could you define it in more detail?Braswell: the Maya calendar had a solar year the 365 days, they did not have leap days or leap years, like we do. The Maya dating didn"t have actually leap year at all, so each year they went turn off by approximately a 4 minutes 1 of a day. But they can count time -- days -- very well, hence the lengthy Count, i beg your pardon is the calendar the the variety of days since creation in august 11, 3114 B.C.RFE/RL: an interpretation that the 13th baktun is around to end this lengthy Count on December 21 ~ some...1,872,000 days. The is, indeed a really long count. Is over there any certain connection in Mayan mythology between this date and the end of the world?Braswell: In the Mayan calendar or inscriptions themselves we only have two mentions of the 2012 date at all, which seems to indicate that castle didn"t think that was really important if castle only discussed it twice. In one case, a monument indigenous the website of Tortuguero mentions a defeat in battle ago in the 600s or 700s the a local king and then it counts forward to this day (December 21), and it states the Bolon Yokte -- or the nine gods -- will descend indigenous Heaven and also will do...something. Unfortunately, the something, that hieroglyph, is damaged off.ALSO READ: optimal 10 End-Of-The-World PredictionsRFE/RL: that beats Hollywood in terms of a an excellent cliffhanger....Braswell: Yes, the ripe gods will be sent and...aarghhh. It"s sort of like a Monty Python sketch. The 2nd text to be just uncovered this year and also it as well discusses events in the 600s, one politician visiting another and playing a ball game, of all things, and also then that counts forward, the counts to one significant ending which took location in 831 or I need to say, cycle ending, which to be 100,000 in the Mayan calendar and also then the counts forward to 2012. For this reason in that case, again, castle don"t say what"s going come happen.RFE/RL: carry out the Maya to speak anything around the people not ending on December 21?Braswell: there is a very important text from the Mayan site of Palenque sculpted by King Pakal, who died in 683. Well, this message at Palenque actually will certainly count forward to the next major cycle , i beg your pardon is in 4772, October 11. Well, the king states that eight work after that next cycle closes he will return and also rule once again. So, plainly he didn"t believe the civilization was going come end. He had big plans for 2,700 year from now. So, no, in the hieroglyphs themselves we have actually no clear info that the world will end and we also have on text that claims it won"t due to the fact that there will be things that take place after this date.

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RFE/RL: among the first questions tweeted come Pope Benedict, who launched his Twitter account this month, to be something like, “is the world going to finish on December 21,” and also it prompted assurance from the Vatican the a doomsday scenario "is not even worth discussing." Other religious leaders have also given similar statements. Come what degree is this reflecting people"s need for balance in between scientific truth and religious reassurance?Braswell: over there is some sort of desire to do a synthesis of both spiritual ideas and also science. And also you deserve to trace that earlier to theosophy in ~ the revolve of the critical century. So i think there is a synthesis right here of both science and also spirituality, i beg your pardon in our period is something that human being want. They desire to somehow be able to cross that great divide -- what C.P. Snow dubbed "the 2 cultures" -- and try to find meaning in both worlds.