Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (Supposedly) And This UT Maya Expert Feels (Mostly) Fine

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Turn on the History Channel, and you’ll find plenty of speculation about the Mayan calendar. The “long count” calendar comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012 – and chances are you’ve heard what that’s supposed to mean.

David Stuart, a professor of art history at the University of Texas at Austin recently deciphered a hieroglyph that included a second reference to the end-date. “This is an important date,” Stuart tells KUT News.  But “the Maya never said anything about the end of the world … they never predicted or prophesied anything about what would happen.”

“It’s a turn of a big cycle of their calendar,” Stuart says. “The Mayan calendar is a pretty complex thing. It has a lot of nested cycles, kind of like a Russian doll. And this is the turn of one of the larger cycles. What nobody talks about is there are far larger cycles still. This is not the end of Mayan time. It’s no end date, really. But it’s an important cosmic event for the ancient Maya, and this why their talking about it in their inscription.”

“Its frustrating, because we are now in the midst of reconstructing their history and their culture,” Stuart continues. “It’s a really exciting time in this field, so we’re battling against the idea that they’re really mysterious and they have all these contacts with aliens, and talking about the end of the world, when they’re very human.”

You can listen to KUT News’ Nathan Bernier discuss the calendar with Stuart in the audio player above. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.