The Order of Days: The Maya World and the Truth about 2012

Unlocking the Secrets of the Ancient Maya

The world's foremost expert on Maya culture looks at 2012 hysteria and explains the truth about what the Maya meant and what we want to believe.

Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilizations End. The World Cataclysm in 2012. 2012: The return of Quetzalcoatl. According to many of these alarmingly titled books, the ancient Maya not only had a keen insight into the mystical workings of our planet and the cosmos, but they were also able to predict that the world will end in the year 2012.

David Stuart, the foremost scholar of the Maya and recipient of numerous awards for his work, takes a hard look at the frenzy over 2012 and offers a fascination (and accurate) trip through Mayan culture and belief. Stuart shows how the idea that the "end of the Mayan calendar," which supposedly heralds the end of our own existence, says far more about our culture than about the ancient Maya. The Order of Days explores how the real intellectual achievement of ancient Maya timekeeping and worldview is far more impressive and remarkable than any of the popular, and often outrageous, claims about this advanced civilization.

As someone who has studied the Maya for nearly all of his life and who specializes in reading their ancient texts, Stuart sees the 2012 hubbub as the most recent in a long chain of related ideas about Mesoamericans, the Maya in particular, that depicts them as somehow oddball, not "of this world," or as having some strong mystical link to other realms.

Because the year 2012 has no prominent role in anything the ancient Maya ever actually wrote, Stuart takes a wider look at the Maya concepts of time and their underlying philosophy as we can best understand them. The ancient Maya, Stuart contends, were worthy of study and admiration not because they were strange but because they were altogether human, and they developed a compelling vision of time unlike any other civilization before or since.

"More than a rebuttal of the apocalypse-pushers, The Order of Days is a broader (and more interesting) consideration of the role that time played in Maya culture.... An authoritative study of an fascinating and timely topic. And not to worry if your reading takes you beyond next Dec. 21." - The Wall Street Journal

From the Hardcover edition.
David Stuart is a Mayanist scholar and professor of Mesoamerican art and writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He began deciphering Mayan hieroglyphs at the age of eight, under the tutelage of Linda Schele. He has made major contributions in the field of epigraphy, particularly related to the decipherment of the Mayan script used by the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization of Mesoamerica.
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    In the last half- century, modern scholars have made an astounding intellectual journey. Beginning in the 1950s and '60s, archaeologists and historians finally began the rigorous process of understanding many key aspects of ancient Maya civilization, much of it by "cracking the code" of the elaborate Maya hieroglyphic script, left to us on hundreds of stone monuments and ceramic vessels. This work has enveloped me for most of my life, with my interest in the Maya beginning when I was a boy accompanying my parents on their expeditions to remote jungle ruins back in the 1970s. Over the years I've been incredibly fortunate to participate in this transformation of knowledge, working with many colleagues in diverse fields to bring the ancient Maya from the realm of prehistory into that of history. Now, after several exciting decades, their written record is mostly understood, and it has forever changed our view of Maya history, religion, and culture. I like to think that we're now at a place in the study of the ancient Maya not unlike where Egyptologists were in the early nineteenth century, at which time an ancient civilization suddenly was ripe for study in grand detail, right on the heels of the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs by Jean- François Champollion.

    With regard to the Maya, we are nowadays in a similar "heady" time, albeit with far more scientific methodology and context in hand than early Egyptology ever had. But has the popular understanding of ancient Mesoamerica and the Maya advanced so much? I have to wonder. Lately I find myself confused and even frustrated by what I see in the popular representation of the Maya in today's media, whether it be in print or on- screen. Seldom can I roam through a large retail bookstore, sit in front of a television, or surf the Web without seeing some reference to the year 2012, now just a couple of years away as I write this. Many of the books on 2012 have evocative, even alarming titles, such as Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization's End; or The World Cataclysm in 2012: The Maya Countdown to the End of Our World; or 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl; or Maya Cosmogenesis 2012: The True Meaning of the Maya Calendar End- Date. According to many of these strange- sounding books and TV shows - and none of them is ever consistent in its message - the ancient Maya, having some keen insight into the mystical workings of our planet and the cosmos, were able to predict that the world would end or in some way be radically transformed in the year 2012 - on the winter solstice December 21, to be exact (although, again, some sources differ about the precise day).

    This is all complete nonsense. As someone who has studied the Maya for nearly all of his life, and who specializes in reading their ancient texts in order to understand their history, religion, and culture, I have to lay down the line and assert that any such statements about the Maya predicting the world's demise or, alternatively, some "transformation of consciousness" in 2012 is, to put it as simply and directly as possible, wrong. Not only wrong, but misleading. There's something larger at work here, more than just the ideas of a few kooks who have little interest in real Maya history and culture. The 2012 hubbub seems to be the most recent in a long chain of related theories and ideas about Mesoamericans, and the Maya in particular, depicting them as somehow oddball, not "of this world," or having some strong mystical link to other realms and dimensions. As early as the nineteenth century, the emerging accounts of ancient civilizations in Mexico were widely seen as too impossibly advanced to be the handiwork of "Indians," especially among many in the young United States, where native populations were being slaughtered, displaced, and culturally marginalized a
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Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 368
Erscheinungsdatum 27.11.2012
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-385-52727-9
Verlag Random House US
Maße (L/B/H) 20.1/13/1.8 cm
Gewicht 318 g
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Fr. 17.90
Fr. 17.90
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