Interpretations of the Maya calendar that the world might end on date, Dec 21 2012, were often roundly dismissed as having no historical basis and being inconsistent with Maya beliefs. See the wikipedia article for a summary.

The wikipedia article cites the lack of direct evidence for doomsday prophecies for that date and the occasional mentioning of later dates including + = (Oct 21 4772) and a date more than 10^31 years into the future.

However, there may have been different opinions about when the world would end and two dates hardly prove that notions that the world would end on would have been seen as ridiculous.

The date of the creation of the current world is written not as but as (as explained here), which sure as hell indicates that the previous world was destroyed and replaced by the current one on a date (in 3114 BCE). Note that according to Maya mythology, the world underwent several cycles of creation and destruction of worlds before the current one. Further, their entire thinking placed great importance on regular cycles.

Is there any reason to believe that they felt the current world would not be destroyed? Is there any strong evidence suggesting that it would last longer than the one before (longer that What are the main arguments for why the end of the world date, Dec 21 2012, would have been inconsistent with Maya mythology?

Edit/Clarification: I am asking about the classical Maya; those that actually used the long count; the ones that flourished until ca. 900 CE. I am not talking about modern esoteric receptions, adaptations, conspiracy theories, or opinions. I am not even talking about modern descendants of the classical Maya (i.e., contemporary Maya).

I am not suggesting that the world did or could have ended in 2012. I am asking if, from the point of view of the historic classical Maya, it would have been conceivable that the world would end (and the next world would begin) on (i.e., in December 2012). And I am asking what historic evidence we have for this.

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    Aren't the main reasons the ones summarized in the Wikipedia article? here, and Stuart and "David Stuart, The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth about 2012, Harmony Books, 2011" Vtc as trivial unless you engage with the sources.
    – MCW
    Nov 16, 2017 at 13:34
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    @MarkC.Wallace Thanks. With regard to the two links: They only address the 2012 in the context of contemporary esoteric talking points (which I am not interested in). Both state that the historical Maya would not have agreed with the doomsday predictions without offering any evidence. The wikipedia article actually does list some arguments, but as stated in the OP what evidence it cites is quite thin and far from conclusive. I am wondering if there is more. The book is not available online, so it will take me some time to get hold of a physical copy and have a look.
    – 0range
    Nov 16, 2017 at 14:40
  • You're trying to prove a negative. No, they never said 'the world will not end on [Mayan version of the 12th of December, 2012 AD], it will end at some other time'. Or if they did, the Spanish burnt whatever book it was written in.
    – Ne Mo
    Nov 16, 2017 at 16:00
  • @NeMo No, I am aware that they never explicitly denied that the world would end on that date. But given that they (1) believed in a cycle of creation and destruction of worlds and (2) saw tun-endings, katun-endings, and certainly baktun-endings as a representation of that cycle, an occasion to symbolically reenact and celebrate it, I am asking what indications exist that make (a baktun ending) an unlikely date for the ending of the world.
    – 0range
    Nov 16, 2017 at 16:18
  • Was the reason that the supposed Mayan end-of-the-world predictions were so often roundly dismissed (at least by thinking people) really because they had no historical basis? Or was it perhaps because 1) there was no reason for the world to end; and 2) if there was such a reason, the Mayans had no possible way to know of it.
    – jamesqf
    Nov 16, 2017 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


I think this was always regarded as an ending to a metaphysical era more than a physical ending within the Mayan calendar. I had this described to me as a cycle in humanity's heart beat as one beat flows into the next (claiming the world ends would be the equivalent of the heart ends after it beats once and not acknowledging that it exists to beat again). It is also easy to find references to 'stages of consciousness' or 'evolution of consciousness'. Websites like http://mayan-calendar.blogspot.ca/ will show that there is a belief that we are all different fingers of the same consciousness and this collective consciousness evolves according to the cycles of the Mayan calendar. This 'world end' is a reference to the ending of one spiritual collective consciousness and the evolution that will bring us to our next and has nothing to do with the end of the physical world.

from the wiki article:

Several prominent individuals representing Maya of Guatemala decried the suggestion that the world would end with the 13th b'ak'tun. Ricardo Cajas, president of the Colectivo de Organizaciones Indígenas de Guatemala, said the date did not represent an end of humanity but that the new cycle "supposes changes in human consciousness." Martín Sacalxot, of the office of the Procurador de los Derechos Humanos (Guatemala's Human Rights Ombudsman, PDH), said that the end of the calendar has nothing to do with the end of the world or the year 2012.

A similar exercise would be some distant future civilization discovering our ruins and calendar, then coming to the conclusion that we believed the world would end right after the age of Aquarius ends and the new age (Capricorn I believe?) starts. Just like the Mayan date, the astrological ages vary heavily...quote below on that from link here http://earthsky.org/human-world/when-will-the-age-of-aquarius-begin). As a side note, the dec 21 2012 date is also disputed, Oct 2011 is also argued as a potential.

But even if you equalize the size of the signs of the Zodiac, you need to consider when the Age of Pisces started to be able to know when the Age of Aquarius begins. Apparently, there’s no firm consensus among astrologers as to when the Age of Pisces began, either. And thus there is no consensus as to when the Age of Aquarius begins. In The Book of World Horoscopes, Nicholas Campion suggests that approximated dates for entering the Age of Aquarius range from 1447 AD to 3597 AD. Campion also reviewed published material on the subject, from astrological sources. He says that most writers claim the Age of Aquarius arrived in the 20th century (29 claims). The 24th century is in second place (12 claims). Campion, by the way, is director of the Sophia Centre and Course Director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

The majority of Mayan sources I see on the topic seem to state that using the Mayan calendar to calculate the 'end of the world' is no better than using these astrological ages (that most don't use and dispute any connection with reality) to say that we would believe the world was to end after the age of Aquarius. Ultimately this is a perversion of their calendar and culture.

  • I could not find any detailed descriptions of the destruction of the previous world from the classic period. But in the post-classic period, it was seen as including (1) floods, (2) monsters, (3) other catastrophes that very much physically destroyed remnants of the previous world. See here and here. This is very different from the cycle of soft renewal that you are describing, accounts of contemporary Maya notwithstanding.
    – 0range
    Nov 17, 2017 at 13:33

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