End of the World? Not for the Maya of Belize

In Belize, the end-of-the-world hype is being used as an opportunity to offer experiences that give visitors a more accurate understanding of Maya culture

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Much has been made about December 21, 2012 by doomsday prophets, busily proclaiming that the end of the world is upon us. But archaeologists and scholars of Maya culture explain that the mystical date of 12.21.12 will not be the catalyst for apocalypse. The Maya’s long-form calendar will end, but not the world itself, which will simply enter a new period.

In Belize, the end-of-the-world hype is being used as an opportunity to offer experiences that give visitors a more accurate understanding of Maya culture. The most significant of these is a once-in-a-lifetime event held at Caracol, one of Belize’s most important Maya archaeological sites. The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) will be holding the last of four overnight camping trips at Caracol on the “end of the world” date. The trip will be led by the NICH’s most prominent archaeologist, Dr. Jaime Awe, and is limited to 200 participants, who need to bring their own camping gear. The $150 cost includes a traditional Maya dinner and fire ceremony. Members of Belize’s roughly 40,000-storng Mayan community will prepare the meal, build the fire and lead the prayers and chants.

(MORE: Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse)

The highlight for many previous campers has been Dr. Awe, who gives a 2.5 hour long guided tour of the Maya site during the camping trip. In the 1970s, Awe led the first official excavation of Caracol by a Belizean team (some exploratory excavations occurred in the 1950s, headed by an American archaeologist). Today, Awe is considered to be the site’s greatest authority and remains at the forefront of archaeological excavation and preservation in Belize, where it is thought that more than three-quarters of Mayan sites have not yet been discovered or excavated.

During a spring equinox camping trip at Caracol, Awe explained that the site was discovered in the 1930s by loggers who literally stumbled upon it. Since the 1970s, when he began his archaeological work there, Awe and his colleagues have discovered more tombs—200—than have been found at any other site in the Mayan world. Awe expects there are many more, but NICH simply has not had the financial or human resources to expand its work.

Limited funding is an ongoing challenge for archaeologists throughout Mayan regions, though it may be especially acute in Belize, which has attracted less attention for its Maya sites than, say, Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala’s Tikal. Nonetheless, 2012 has been an exceptional opportunity for Belize, says Awe, because it has allowed visitors to Maya sites like Caracol to become ambassadors, “taking this [experience] to the world.” In so doing, they’ll be helping Maya culture enter a new era—exactly the opposite of what the doomsayers predict.

MORE: Found: The Oldest Maya Calendar (and No, the World’s Still Not Ending)

4 comments
hahart86
hahart86

2012 has been great for the Mayan people who are able to use the spotlight to promote their rich culture, history and land.

http://www.themundomaya.com

A web documentary that goes on a journey through the lands of the Maya and gives a rich multi-media context to the notion of Mayan identity and place. (If you're interested in Belize then you can listen to a traditional healer talk about the use of cacao, and also hear the seven angel's songs from a Mayan harp player),

SouthIndian
SouthIndian

Resemblance between Maya and Indian God:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maya-Maske.jpg

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_tb6hmR8ojjk/SmAD6xMA6xI/AAAAAAAAAKQ/DrJ74ripsrM/1.jpg

If you closely look at the Mayan God, above the head you could see an image which is known as "Keerthi Mugam" in India. You could clearly see it in the 2nd image (above the Goddess head), the similar image is there.

The legend goes like this:

Once, a Sage visited Adhi Yogi (Shiva) and wanted to demonstrate his super-natural powers. But in front of Shiva, he could not do it. So, the Adhi Yogi created a demon and asked to eat the Sage. The Sage then realized his mistake and fell on the feet of Adhi Yogi and asking him to forgive for this mistake. He forgave him. Then the demon said that He created him to eat up the Sage and now, he is hungry. Then, Adhi Yogi (Shiva) told him that "Eat Yourself" and He walked away. After some time, when He came back, He saw that the demon has eaten himself and only 2 hands where in the mouth and it has eaten himself. The Adhi Yogi saw this and said, "Oh.. You are the blessed one. The one who destroys himself is above all Gods and will be known as Keerthi Mugam".  So, in all temples in India above the God, there will be an image of this demon. The same can be seen above the head of Mayan God as well. 

What a resemblance !!

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