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As we approach an epic date in history, it is also of interest to listen to scholars that have studied the subject in much depth. Newspapers and mainstream media in general do not give much coverage to university presses who often release some of the most well thought out works with great substance. The University Press of Colorado has been named as one of the most innovative presses - below we took some excerpts from 4 books in its roster:
- - - - Maya Creation Myths by Timothy Knowlton - - - -
"There is no Classical Yucatecan Maya word for “myth.” But around the close of the seventeenth century, an anonymous Maya scribe penned what he called u kahlay cab tu kinil (“the world history of the era”) before Christianity came to the Peten, the land of the Maya. In this he collected numerous accounts of the cyclical destruction and reestablishment of the
cosmos; the origins of gods, human beings, and the rituals and activities upon which their relationship depends; and finally the dawn of the Sun and with it the sacred calendar Maya diviners used (and in some places still use today) to make sense of humans’ place in the otherwise inscrutable march of time."
Maya Creation Myths provides not only new and outstanding translations of these myths but also an interpretive journey through these often misunderstood texts, providing insight into Maya cosmology and how Maya intellectuals met the challenge of the European clergy's attempts to eradicate their worldviews.
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- - - - The End of Time by Anthoni Aveni - - - -
"The Maya have captured our contemporary imagination like no other ancient culture since the Egyptians back in the 1920s, when archaeologists first breached the tomb of King Tutankhamen....The Maya are today’s Egyptians of the New World as well. Ever since outsiders first set foot in Yucatan nearly 200 years ago, we have thought of the pyramid builders who once lived there as the “mysterious Maya.” Enveloped in all the mystery—in ancient codices and carved stelae, as well as in the stories of creation told in the Popol Vuh and in the sacred Books of Chilam Balam—are the ideas we will need to confront and explore if we really want to understand what the Maya thought came before and would come after the present Long Count creation epoch."
In The End of Time, award-winning astronomer and Maya researcher Anthony Aveni explores these theories, explains their origins, and measures them objectively against evidence unearthed by Maya archaeologists, iconographers, and epigraphers. He probes the latest information astronomers and earth scientists have gathered on the likelihood of Armageddon and the oft-proposed link between the Maya Long Count cycle and the precession of the equinoxes. He then expands on these prophecies to include the broader context of how other cultures, ancient and modern, thought about the "end of things" and speculates on why cataclysmic events in human history have such a strong appeal within American pop culture.
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- - - - Maya Daykeeping by Weeks, Sachse & Prager - - - -
"Given the ancient importance of the calendar, one might wonder why the indigenous calendar did not persist more strongly after the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century than it did. Much of calendrical knowledge was probably held by a small group of individuals who guarded that knowledge but were easily singled out for control, suppression, or elimination.
Divination and the management of time have a fundamental role in Maya culture and have been practiced from ancient times through the present. Historical and ethnographic accounts provide information about diviners and other types of
non-Catholic religious specialists (Table 1.3). The shaman priest determines the days on which both communal religious ceremonies and cofradia ceremonies are to be held. The prayer sayer requests good providence or assists in effecting cures of sick clients and functions in dawn ceremonies of various kinds. The daykeeper, or calendar priest, uses a divining bundle of tz’ite’ seeds to count the days and make diagnoses. A subcategory of diviner includes those who use crystals instead of tz’ite’ seeds."
In Maya Daykeeping, three divinatory calendars from highland Guatemala - examples of a Mayan literary tradition that includes the Popul Vuh, Annals of the Cakchiquels, and the Titles of the Lords of Totonicapan - dating to 1685, 1722, and 1855, are transcribed in K'iche or Kaqchikel side-by-side with English translations. Calendars such as these continue to be the basis for prognostication, determining everything from the time for planting and harvest to foreshadowing illness and death. Good, bad, and mixed fates can all be found in these examples of the solar calendar and the 260-day divinatory calendar.
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