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Leaping to a Ludicrous Leap Year Conclusion – aka Were The Mayans The Original Douchebags?

There have been approximately 514 leap years since Julius Caesar created the Julian Calendar in 46BC. The Mayan calendar, which forms the underlying premise of the movie ‘2012’ with John Cusack; released in plenty of time so the producers could raise the millions of Euros required to secure their safe passage on board the American ark 😉 – did not use leap years to synchronise the months to the seasons. In fact, the Mayans had several calendars, one of which was known as the Long Count.

History tells us that,

The Mayan civilization existed from 250-900 A.D. in the current geographical location of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and some of Honduras. Archaeologists studying this fascinating culture have been able to decipher their many calendars, but their longest period calendar — the “Long Count” — is what set alarm bells off in the fertile minds of a few conspiracy theorists, doomsayers and guys looking to make a fast buck.

According to Quantum expert and Sleek Geek, Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki,

“[the Long Count] was set up around 355 BCE, and had as its chosen starting date 0.0.0.0.0, which corresponds to 11 August 3114 BCE. And on 21 December 2012, the Mayan Long Count calendar will read 13.0.0.0.0.

Now here’s how it works. Our numbering system is based on 10. But the Mayans had a counting system based on 20, so most of the ‘slots’ in their calendar had 20 potential numbers (0 to 19). The calendar read a little like the odometer in your car’s speedo (which run from 0 to 9). The extreme right slot (of five slots) would count through the days, and when it got to 19 days (0.0.0.0.19) would reset to zero, and the next slot across to the left would increase by one (to 0.0.0.1.0).

So 0.0.0.0.1 was one day, and 0.0.0.1.0 was 20 days. Then 0.0.1.0.0 was about one year, 0.1.0.0.0 was about 20 years and with 1.0.0.0.0, you’ve clocked up about 400 years. And on 21 December 2012, the Mayan Long Count calendar will read 13.0.0.0.0.”

Therefore, if you subscribe to a conspiracy theory centered around the number 13 you may feel inclined to splurge on ‘buy now, pay later’ items, knowing that you will never have to cough up on the horrendous credit card interest rate. Go for it, Gerry Harvey won’t mind.

However, Dr. Karl continues to say,

“By the way, the time between 0.0.0.0.0 and 13.0.0.0.0 is about 5126 years. Now some Mayan archaeo-astronomers reckon that the calendar should reset back to zero and start again. But others disagree and say it should continue to 20, and then reset again.”

Hmm, hands up all those of you scared of the number 20!

So, bearing in mind that we only started using leap days 2,059 years ago, and the Mayans never used leap days when they set up their calendar to begin in 3114BC, the math that calculated the End of Days is flawed – sorry Arnie.

Add to that the fact that even the experts on Mayan culture cannot agree and there’s a good chance doomsayers, that you’re already dead 🙂

Check back on Thursday for Even More Interesting Trivia?!