2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse

2012 and the End of the World: The Western Roots of the Maya Apocalypse

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By (author) Matthew Restall, By (author) Amara Solari

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  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
  • Format: Hardback | 160 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 218mm x 23mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 16 January 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Lanham, MD
  • ISBN 10: 1442206098
  • ISBN 13: 9781442206090
  • Sales rank: 805,806

Product description

Did the Maya really predict that the world would end in December of 2012? If not, how and why has 2012 millenarianism gained such popular appeal? In this deeply knowledgeable book, two leading historians of the Maya answer these questions in a succinct, readable, and accessible style. Matthew Restall and Amara Solari introduce, explain, and ultimately demystify the 2012 phenomenon. They begin by briefly examining the evidence for the prediction of the world's end in ancient Maya texts and images, analyzing precisely what Maya priests did and did not prophesize. The authors then convincingly show how 2012 millenarianism has roots far in time and place from Maya cultural traditions, but in those of medieval and Early Modern Western Europe. Revelatory any myth-busting, while remaining firmly grounded in historical fact, this fascinating book will be essential reading as the countdown to December 21, 2012, begins.

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Author information

Matthew Restall is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Colonial Latin American History, Anthropology, and Women's Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. Amara Solari is assistant professor of art history at The Pennsylvania State University.

Review quote

Media are full of doomsday predictions related to the Maya Long Count calendar end date, December 21, 2012, in today's Western calendar. Restall and Solari take a serious look at Maya calendar development, archaeology, and history to seek the truth behind the so-called Maya doomsday prophecy, which adherents believe may forecast the end of the world. The authors see no evidence that Long Count calendar dates for the future, carved on stone monuments at Maya archaeological sites in Mexico and Central America, indicate predictions of doom. Their thorough examination of Maya carvings, images, and writings leads them to the conclusion that the preconquest Maya were not particularly millenarian. By contrast, their Spanish conquerors came from a culture steeped in eschatological thinking. The authors effectively provide scholarly evidence to back up their hypothesis that millenarianism probably came via the Spanish and is not intrinsic to the traditional Maya worldview and to debunk prophecies of doom. VERDICT This readable analysis based on credible scholarship is a needed and balanced counterpoint to the many sensationalist works on the Maya doomsday prophecy as 2012 approaches. Highly recommended for all seeking a reasoned perspective on Maya calendar systems. Library Journal, Starred Review Well, here's a much-needed breath of fresh, rational air. A welcome counterpoint to the seemingly endless end-of-the-world tomes, this well-documented, well-presented book (written by a pair of history professors) explores the origins of the alleged Mayan prediction that the world will end on December 21, 2012. For conspiracy buffs, the authors' conclusions will prove decidedly disheartening. For example: they show that there is no hard evidence that the Mayan calendar has any predictive function; the Long Count calendar (which is key to the 2012 date) has a purely arbitrary start date, rendering the 2012 date meaningless; and (despite common misperception) the Mayans were not especially apocalyptic in outlook. The authors have a simple mission, 'to explain what the 2012 fuss is all about,' and they do it admirably. They don't go as far as saying the world won't end in December 2012, but they do say this: there is no evidence, either historical or textual, that the Mayans were predicting the end of the world in 2012 or any other year. Booklist Restall and Solari's informative and accessible book offers understanding of who the Maya were and how they saw their world and, at the same time, offers an explanation into why apocalyptic scenes have always been so attractive... The authors affirm that 2012 is not the end and that many positive things can come from the 2012 phenomenon, including the interest being paid to Mayan culture and to other past civilizations. Spirituality and Health In their highly readable volume, Mayan scholars Restall and Solari cover ... evidence about ancient Maya belief in a distant apocalypse, but acknowledge that strains of European apocalypticism entered Maya thinking after the conquest. The authors show through discussion of missionary art and Maya colonial writings the likely influences of European thought about the end of the world on the changing Maya conceptions of themselves and their world. They agree, however, that such hybrid strains of the apocalypse in the New World have nothing to do with the current hype about 2012. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. CHOICE Historians and Maya specialists Matthew Restall and Amara Solari have written the best book available about the notion that the ancient Maya count of days pointed to a world- transforming cataclysm to occur on the 21st of December in the year 2012. Specialists and general readers alike will find this an invaluable overview of the subject... This is an excellently written, well-argued presentation that many should read-while there is still time. Hispanic American Historical Review In an age of fear and trepidation about 2012 and time's end, educators who know the Maya need to step up and teach the truth beyond their academic audience. This well-argued, exceptionally accessible book combines the interdisciplinary forces of one who knows the Maya word with one who knows the Maya image. It takes readers to the historical roots of the 2012 myth and reveals how and why the idea of Maya millenarianism became linked to the celebrated Long Count. -- Anthony Aveni, Russell Colgate Distinguished University Professor, Colgate University Falsehoods are more powerful than facts. Matthew Restall and Amara Solari's ingenious reconstruction of an amazing story-how Maya mathematics morphed into modern millenarianism-tells us a lot about the Maya. Their book tells us even more about ourselves: how and why, with every emotion from solemnity to derision, we respond to prophets who claim to foresee the end of time. Witty, scholarly, insightful, and fast-paced-this is the thinking person's guide to the next pop-apocalypse. -- Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, University of Notre Dame

Table of contents

Introduction: You Really Can Survive Chapter 1: The History of the End of the World: The Maya Prediction Chapter 2: They Deserve Better: The Maya Evidence Chapter 3: God Is Angry: The Millenarian Mother Lode Chapter 4: The Moctezuma Factor: The End of the World Comes to Mexico Chapter 5: Apocalypto: The Millennium Comes to the Maya Chapter 6: We Are Almost There: Why People Believe Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading