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

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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 ...

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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“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
Kirkus Reviews

Highly concentrated amalgamation of doomsday-theory debunking and Mayan ethos.

A leading Mayanist scholar and Mesoamerican art professor (Univ. of Texas), Stuart began appreciating Maya culture at an early age during trips to jungle ruins with his parents, lifelong experts. Staunchly dedicated, the author has collected field research and documented the evolution of native kingdoms predating the Mesoamerican civilization—present-day southern Mexico and northern Central America—and the classic eras that established it, along with deciphering much of the coded Maya hieroglyphic script. He expounds on this research in dense, informative chapters about how the Maya society developed into a deeply mystical, animistic collective, invoking their notions of timekeeping and day-naming, cosmology and science. Also relevant to the author's research was how their 260-day calendar was intricately designed and calculated and what the Maya people considered cosmic "deep time." Stuart adroitly dispels common misconceptions that put the Mayan culture in an "exotic", "alien" light to outsiders, which, to him, constitutes a "major cultural misunderstanding." Though he appreciates the enthusiasm of the "guru" mentality, the author openly dismisses the recent ominous hype cultivated by New Age writers like John Major Jenkins and others who've analyzed the Maya calendar and its perceived dire consequences for the world at large. This is "complete nonsense," the author writes, and he goes on to dispense a vast and illuminating chronicle of the Maya people and their fascinating cultural significance. While much of Stuart's scholarly interpretation borders on textbook analysis, even he confesses that a healthy amount of his personalized conjecture might be viewed as "half-baked" at its early developmental stage. The author deeply examines the core beliefs and the intricate written languages of the Maya civilization and seeks to convey a better understanding of not only its culture and history, but how it correlates to the overblown media buzz about the Earth's hypothesized demise in 2012.

Chockablock with facts, graphs and illustrations—supreme fodder for specialists but somewhat impenetrable for the casual reader.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385527262
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

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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Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Preface xi

1 The Itzá Prophecy 1

2 Mesoamerican Times 30

3 The Essence of Space 65

4 Finding Order 93

5 Ideas of the Day 115

6 Long Counting 162

7 Beginnings and Endings of the World 195

8 The Deepest Time 229

9 Kings of Time 252

10 Seeing Stars 283

Appendices 317

Endnotes 327

Bibliography 333

Acknowledgments 341

Index 343

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    This will be a Christmas Gift

    Sorry - I have bought this book as a Christmas Present for my daughter - cannot give you a review

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful View into Maya History, Archaeology, Anthropology and Time-Keeping

    Remember what life was like in 1999? Millennium fever was sweeping the world and scientists, regular folk and the new-age-erati were focused on January 1, 2000. Y2K was coming and it was bringing with it a digital Armageddon. And when it finally arrived, we celebrated (and ducked) and nothing happened...except January 2, 2000.

    Something very similar is happening again with the approach of the much anticipated date of December 21, 2012, otherwise known as 13.0.0.0.0 on the Maya calendar. Will it bring mass destruction through floods, fire, and asteroids (as Hollywood might have us believe)? Or will it be the dawning of a new religious age that's something more spiritual, peaceful and fulfilling than the multitude of religions that already exist around the world?

    David Stuart is one of the world's preeminent Maya epigraphers and historians. In his recently released "The Order of Days", Stuart expresses his frustration with the pop culture hullaballoo over the Maya's supposedly prophetic importance of December 21, 2012. The date is very real and very important to the Maya but Stuart emphatically points out that "no Maya text, ancient, colonial, or modern-ever predicted the end of time or the end of the world."

    With an eye on 12/21/12, Stuart takes an anthropological, archaeological and historical look into the far and near past of Mesoamerican cultures and, as Stuart himself writes, "examines history, ancient texts, modern Maya religion, and the early development of research to show how the Maya conceived of a remarkable structure to time and space that's significant on its own as a compelling human achievement."

    December 21, 2012 was extremely important to the Maya. Just like January 1, 2000 was important to the modern world. Those 3 zeros that follow the "2" make it an inherently key, though arbitrary, calendar-based milestone. Key milestones in the never ceasing revolutions of time were much more important to the Mayas than they are to modern Americans. We use those cycles of time to celebrate. For the Maya, time and dates, and their passages, were THE driving force in the day-to-day, practical, and spiritual lives of the Maya.

    The sole reference to the infamous 12/21/12 date comes from a small ruin at Tortuguero, not far from the better known site of Palenque in Mexico. Stuart writes, "On a large slab...it reads (in glyphs) that "thirteen bak'tuns will end on a date that corresponds to 12/21/12." This is the only reference to that specific date, and from that alone has come a multitude of speculation over what this actually means."

    Time was so important...controlling it, or at least the perception of controlling it, became a key role within the ancient Maya communities. "...Shaman priests who oversaw (religious) ceremonies were probably well versed in the messages and meanings of time as it was anciently structured - what Mesoamerican cultures called the "Order of Days" - using it as a framework to divine the reasons why" the gods, and what they represented (rain, for example), did what they did.

    Stuart writes, "Time was not just a means of measuring the course of history but was also a...shaping force in human experience...time was an "actor" invested with personality and character who shaped the very nature of history itself."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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