"End Date" Nears

Expect the hype to intensify as the calendar draws closer to Dec. 21, 2012, the so-called Maya doomsday.


By Peter E. Howard

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 27, 2012) – Dozens of television shows and news reports talk about it. There is an “official” countdown clock recording it. And, some companies are offering up bunkers to ride it out.


With the date of the ancient Maya prediction for global calamity fast approaching, Christian Wells expects the reports and coverage will only get more frenetic. Tourism is booming at Maya sites, and he’s hearing rumors that Bono will be singing at the Kukulkan Pyramid at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan on Dec. 21.


Wells lectures at USF in March for a Humanities Institute series “Visions of the Apocalypse.”

Wells, associate professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida and an expert on the Maya culture, is also getting more requests for interviews and lectures. His latest lecture, where he “places the doomsday narrative in the appropriate context,” will be held at 12:15 Friday, Nov. 30, at the Continuing Education offices, (NEC 300A), on campus.


“I’ll be talking about the Maya calendar and how it works,” Wells said. “The media and some of the New Age religions have made it a global narrative, about the whole world, but it’s really about the Maya calendar. I call it a sustainability narrative, because it’s really the Maya showing where they were as a people in relation to longer cycles and trends in the environment.”


The Maya often looked forward to dates in the future, Wells explains, because to them the future is representative of things that have already happened in the past. Dec. 21, 2012, just happened to be one of those dates in the cycle.


The stone carving recording the date and its interpretation have been debated for years, with some saying the planets will realign or an ancient Maya god will reappear and bring destruction.


A second tablet mentioning the date Dec. 21, 2012 was located at La Corona in Guatemala earlier this year. Wells said it’s only the second mention of the date found in Maya writings. But the interpretation from this new discovery shows that Dec. 21 points to a “political event,” he said.


The text talks about the visit of a Maya king who comes to La Corona, Wells said. The stone writing projects forward to 2012 as part of the future Maya calendar and there is no mention of apocalyptic events associated with the text.


So, with the chatter about the Maya doomsday picking up, what’s Wells going to be doing on Dec. 21?


“I’m probably going to be Christmas shopping,” he said. “You still have to buy those Christmas presents. You can’t get out of it this year.”


Peter E. Howard can be reached at 813-974-9057.