Today was marked down as the day the world would end, according to one interpretation of an ancient text. While most people saw it as just a bit of fun, some took things to extremes, as Noni Edwards reports.
Mexico is the centre of the world right now, or the supposed end of the world, to be more precise. Visitors from Europe, South America and Asia travelled to Chichen Itza’s Temple of the serpent god and why? Because the Ancient Mayan calendar marks the end of a 5,126-year-old cycle today, December 21, 2012.
“Archaeologists have found that the Mayan civilisation had a very unique calendar with three cycles, explains Hasan Al Hariri from the Dubai Astronomy Group. “One of them, the big cycle was thousands of years old and they found that it’s ending, dramatically on 21st December 2012”
He says it’s a situation where humanity’s natural curiosity and need to find patterns in the world around us have led people to the wrong answer, that people are looking for messages and connections in unrelated events.
December 21st coincidentally marks an alignment of the earth, the sun and the center of the Milky Way an event which takes place only once every 26,000 years.
“Just like random things from here and there put together to give you a picture of Doomsday and a prediction of it,” he says.
One visitor to Chichen Itza was clearly making an effort to piece things together.
“We are water. Our bodies are over 75 per cent and the earth is covered in over 75 per cent water,” she says. “My understanding of what’s happening at this time with the planetary alignment is that it’s a frequency type of thing.”
Al Hariri is quick to dismiss such an explanation: “What we are having today is to educate people that this thing is not true, it’s a kind of hocus pocus.”
Meanwhile in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has weighed in with his own prediction, outbidding the Mayans, with an estimate that the world will end in 4.5 billion years.
In Taiwan, hundreds gathered in front of a replica Mayan temple at the Museum of Natural Science in the city of Taichung. They counted down to the time of midnight in Mexico – with squeals of delight from the crowd marking, well, that nothing had happened.
In China, officials took the situation a lot more seriously, launching a nationwide crackdown on the the spreading of Doomsday rumours. Here, police in Yunnan Province are burning flyers they say were being handed out to promote a cult.
But, not everyone was swallowing the story whole. One visitor to Mexico was taking it all with a grain of salt: “I don’t expect anything really, just there gonna be a gathering of hundreds of thousands of people there.”