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The End of Time

The Maya Mystery of 2012

By Anthony Aveni

Publication Year: 2009

December 21, 2012. The Internet, bookshelves, and movie theaters are full of prophecies, theories, and predictions that this date marks the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as we know it. Whether the end will result from the magnetic realignment of the north and south poles, bringing floods, earthquakes, death, and destruction; or from the return of alien caretakers to enlighten or enslave us; or from a global awakening, a sudden evolution of Homo sapiens into non-corporeal beings - theories of great, impending changes abound.

In The End of Time, award-winning astronomer and Maya researcher Anthony Aveni explores these theories, explains their origins, and measures them objectively against evidence unearthed by Maya archaeologists, iconographers, and epigraphers. He probes the latest information astronomers and earth scientists have gathered on the likelihood of Armageddon and the oft-proposed link between the Maya Long Count cycle and the precession of the equinoxes. He then expands on these prophecies to include the broader context of how other cultures, ancient and modern, thought about the "end of things" and speculates on why cataclysmic events in human history have such a strong appeal within American pop culture.

Published by: University Press of Colorado

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

Several decades ago when I was a graduate student, I asked a professor about the possibility that a Maya building was astronomically oriented. His response was to scoff that there were so many stars in the sky that it was inevitable that a building would be oriented to at least one of them. (Apparently, he was of the mind that there are...

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pp. xv-xviii

How will it end—cosmic collision, global climate change, nuclear holocaust? When will it end—in billions or millions of years, in a handful of generations—or in only a few years? What makes us think there ever will be an end to the world as we know it? Maybe...

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pp. xix-xxii

To my friends and colleagues with a wide variety of perspectives on issues raised in this book for their willingness to discuss them with me: Gary Baddeley, Harvey and Victoria Bricker, Robert Garland, Joscelyn Godwin, John Justeson, Tim Knowlton, Susan Milbrath, Mary Miller, William Peck, Prudence Rice, Barry Shain, David...

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1: Introduction: How Dylan got me started

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pp. 1-8

On December 21, 2012 (or December 23, 2012, depending on how you align their ancient calendar with ours), the odometer of ancient Maya timekeeping known as the Long Count will revert to zero and the cyclic tally of 1,872,000 days (5,125.3661 years) will start all over again. When I first became attracted to Maya studies...

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2: What's in Store? A user's guide to 2012 Maya Prohpecies

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pp. 9-34

Metaphysical travel—also called sacred travel—is a burgeoning branch of today’s tourist industry. Popular destinations tend to be mysterious places, especially those many of us have difficulty believing could have been constructed by an ordinary human labor force. Egypt’s pyramids, Stonehenge, and Machu Picchu all come...

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3: What we know about the Maya and thier ideas about Creation

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pp. 35-64

The Maya thought a lot about the creation of the world, as this passage, one of many from the colonial Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, exemplifies. But who were they and where did they come from? The Maya lived—and still do—in the peninsula of Yucatan, which encompasses portions of Mexico, Honduras, and...

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4: The Calendar: Jewel of the Maya Crown

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pp. 65-84

Western civilization is not alone in seeking its origins in deep time. We bundle our years into decades, our decades into centuries, and our centuries into millennia. Our ages—the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, the Middle Ages—are packaged into eras, such as the Christian and pre-Christian eras. For the believer, the...

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5: The Astronomy Behind the Current Maya Creation

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pp. 85-116

In Chapter 2, I noted the number of astronomical and other natural events conjured up by the Y12 prognosticators. To summarize, here is a short list of the most common questions I have been asked about possible natural events that might have something to do with...

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6: What goes around: Other ends of time

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pp. 117-134

The Maya were not unique in their creation of ever larger time cycles that transcend seasonal years; for example, we reckon the ten years of a decade, the hundred of a century, the thousand of a millennium, each seeming to take on a character of its own. The Maya thought of katuns as we think of our decades, as a way of labeling...

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7: Only in America

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pp. 135-162

Novus ordo seclorum.1 Inscribed on the back of U.S. dollar bills below a mysterious-looking eye perched on top of a pyramid, this statement declares the advent of “a new order of the ages.” America always was a birthplace for new ideas—new beginnings. As Thomas Paine put it, “the birthday of a new world is at hand.”2 To understand how and why this image of America was cultivated and why...

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8: Epilogue: Anticipation

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pp. 163-166

Preparing this manuscript during a period of world history that some pundits have described as the greatest economic collapse in the lifetime of most Americans has elicited a number of comments from family, friends, and colleagues. Some say, “Too bad the Maya got it wrong by four years” or “Maybe they made an error?”...


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pp. 167-178


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pp. 179-182


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pp. 183-190

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320098
E-ISBN-10: 1607320096
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870819612
Print-ISBN-10: 0870819615

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 21
Publication Year: 2009