PICTURES: 2012 Doomsday Myths Debunked

PICTURES: 2012 Doomsday Myths Debunked
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MYTH: Maya Had Clear Predictions for 2012

If the Maya didn't expect the end of time in 2012, what exactly did they predict for that year?

Many scholars who've pored over the scattered evidence on Maya monuments say the empire didn't leave a clear record predicting that anything specific would happen in 2012.

The Maya did pass down a graphic--though undated--end-of-the-world scenario, described on the final page of a circa-1100 text known as the Dresden Codex (detail above). It describes a world destroyed by flood, a scenario imagined in many cultures and probably experienced, on a less apocalyptic scale, by ancient peoples (more on the Dresden Codex).

The codex scenario is meant to be read not literally but as a lesson about human behavior, said Anthony Aveni, the archaeoastronomer.

He likens the long cycles Maya calendar to our own New Year period, when the closing of an era is accompanied by frenetic activities and stress, followed by a rebirth period, when many people take stock and resolve to begin living better.

"It's not about a fixed prediction about what's going to happen."

ON TV 2012: Countdown to Armageddon airs Sunday, November 15, at 7 p.m. ET on the National Geographic Channel. Preview >>
— Mayan Dresden Codex scan courtesy Library of Congress
 
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