- Dec 21, 2011 9:01 am
We received a Christmas letter from our dear old friend Brian O’Neil. Michael first met Brian back in 1979 at the Lay Site, a multi-component archaeological site in northwest Colorado. They’ve been great friends ever since and share a long and involved correspondence covering a vast array of topics. Brian could be a stereotype for the grizzled “have trowel will travel” dirt archaeologist. The kind of guy you hire first because he knows his stuff, can dig a level floor without a line level, and doesn’t baffle the listener with superfluous bullshit.
As we head into 2012 it’s popular to parrot the media hype based on the pseudo-expert kooks dredged up by the History Channel, Discovery Channel, and the other mass-mind-melting gurus on the internet. The current biggie is that the Mayan calendars, the chatun and katun will finally align, and this, the Fifth World, will end on December 21, 2012.
Hollywood–always a haven of intelligence and balance–picked up the ball and ran with it, creating a disaster film that defied planetary physics–let alone any kind of horse sense. 2012? This is the year the world ends! How exciting. Of course the smart guys in Hollywood never really bothered to learn anything about what the Maya really believed, which was that the cycles would simply start over with the beginning of the Sixth World. After all, humans–and the earth–have been through this five times already, and nothing apocalyptic happened on the previous transitions between worlds.
There’s the reason no one invites archaeologists to parties. We dig up dirt about peoples’ past. And Brian O’Neil is a consummate digger. He also teaches a Southwest Archaeology class at Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colorado. Which means his students get a real education in archaeology–not the pablum spouted by bored academic PhDs in other institutions. Brian, to his amusement, has been watching the brain- anesthetizing programming about the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012.
So he’s doing a special Christmas “Blue Light Special” as he puts it, for his archaeology class. He’s a digger, remember? An old-time, real, scholar. He started doing real reasearch on the Mayan calendars, and immediately ran into problems. You see, we’re talking about thousands of years. And, there’s the problem of which calendar are you using, and, well, shucks, people have actually changed calendars over the years. So we thought we’d share a quote from Brian’s latest letter to us:
“…The 7 different calendars employed by the Maya do not always line up with the exactitude presented by the History Channel. (Duh!) Nor does modern astrology (synodic) match up with current (sidereal) astronomy, and the dating correlations depend on whether you use the Jullian or Gregorian calendars, and their correlations with the signs of the zodiac. [Astrologer Roberta S. Skowler uses the Julian calendar as a better synodic correlate with the Classic and Post Classic Maya, as it was in use in Western Civilization between 45 BC and AD 1582 when the Gregorian calendar came into use.]”
Brian, of course ran his own numbers, not trusting what the “archaeologists” on the History Channel claimed. Which makes us wonder. Why is it that none of us in the archaeological community have never heard of these archaeologists? A quick check of the Society for American Archaeology shows that none of these “experts” have presented a single paper in the last decade! Reminds us of the line in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones asked, “Which top men?”
We digress. What did Brian find? Well, depending on which combinations of Mayan and Western calendars you use, you get different dates! Imagine that! But one combination really rang Brian’s bells. What was it? “Ok, so here it is…wait for it…wait for it…according to the Waters/Skowler calculations, the end of the Fifth World will occur on Dec. 24, 2011. Well, doesn’t that just ***** up your Christmas party?
“Sorry Virginia, Santa Claus will not make his appointed rounds on Christmas Eve. The Hollywood Amrageddonists and Disasterites have predicted that the super volcano in Yellowstone NP will erupt, monstrous earthquakes will cause California to slide into the sea, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello will no longer play Beach Blanket Bingo, Lindsey Lohan won’t have fun, fun, fun, til her daddy takes the T-bird away, immense tidal waves will cover the earth making Surfin’ USA a global phenomenon (in 3D), the world’s magnetic poles will flip and the EMP will fry the GPS on Santa’s sleigh causing it to plunge to earth in a fiery ball of burning wrapping paper…
“But wait! What’s that I hear on the roof where there arose such a clatter? Tis Santa crying, ‘Ho! Ho! Ho! Step on it, Rudolph! Tis time to get out of here before I have to trade you for a fricking red-nosed penguin with happy feet!’ And I heard him say as he flew out of sight, ‘Merry Christmas to all, and the Maya were right!'”