The “2012” Prophecy and Ancient Maya Politics

If you know someone who starts getting nervous as the end of the year approaches because of the “Mayan prophecy,” send them here.

They should be able to understand how it all goes back to the king of one of the ancient Mayan city-states proclaiming how great he was.

The key to understanding the reference to 2012 is a unique title that this Calakmul king gives himself. In the text, he calls himself the “13 K’atun lord”—that is, the king who presided over and celebrated an important calendar ending, the 13th K’atun cycle (9.13.0.0.0). This event had occurred just a few years before in AD 692. In order to vaunt himself even further and place his reign and accomplishments into an eternal setting, he connects himself forward in time to when the next higher period of the Maya calendar would reach the same 13 number—that is, December 21, 2012 (13.0.0.0.0).

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