“Sightseeing the End of the World! Or, Everything You are Dying to Ask about 2012” By Dr. Quetzil Castañeda (Indiana University)
2 min read
This lecture was focused on three goals: the difference between Maya and Mayan, the mystery of the Maya, and what 2012 phenomena (or meme) is truly all about.
Maya is an adjective and is used when referring to anything Maya except the language. Mayan is the term used for “Maya language.” What this all means is that Maya can be an adjective or a noun and be used in a singular or plural form. Mayan, as a rule, should only be used when referring to the language that uses “Maya phonetics.” Maya is used for everything: Maya architecture, Maya ruins, Maya people, etc. The word Maya is also used as an adjectival noun (such as “the Maya” which is the same as saying “the French”). So the difference between “to study Maya” and “to study Mayan” is simple: Maya refers to the people and culture, whereas Mayan refers to the language family.
2012 is causing an increase in tourism. There are many 2012 oriented tours, such as Mayan Cruise 2012 and Maya 2012 Tour, that are taking people around many important Maya sites as the so called “doomsday” date approaches. Not to mention the gurus taking advantage of making some extra cash. We have Humbatz Man, a Mayanist, along with “fake scholars” David Pinchbeck and John Major Jenkins using their 2012 fantasies and twisted interpretations (from research completed by real scholars and academics) to promote their end of the world ideas.
The final part of the lecture was the most amusing. Apparently, unless you study anthropology/archaeology, the world is trying to convince everyone that 1) the Maya had a physical calendar and 2) this calendar is the Aztec Sun Stone. Unfortunately, there was no physical calendar — the calendar we refer to as the Maya calendar was created by present scholars in order to visualize how it operates. The non-physical Maya calendar was used to record important dates in Maya history: battles, anniversaries, births of kings, when a king was put in power, etc, plus when the best planting times were.
My question is, who decided that it was appropriate to rename the Aztec Sun Stone as the Maya calendar? And who decided that deceiving the world with it was appropriate? My 2012 plans are slightly different. I will be taking advantage of the Cycles of Time symposium at Uxmal during the “end of the world” and trekking across the Yucatan and into northern Belize with Dr. Susan Milbrath afterwards. No, the world is not ending. But what better way to spend the beginning of a new Maya cycle than with the modern Maya of today?
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Written by Melanie E Magdalena Permalink