As the date that some claim marks the apocalypse predicted by the Mayan calendar approaches on Friday, December 21, 2012, Drexel University’s Dr. Judith Storniolo, a teaching professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is available to comment on what the end of the Mayan calendar actually means for us.
Storniolo can explain how – while we live in a culture that has a linear perception of time – the ancient Maya measured time cyclically based upon the repetitive movements and positions of the heavenly bodies and circadian rhythms of nature. One of the Mayan’s calendric counting of days ends on December 21, 2012, which many have interpreted as the end of the world.
According to Storniolo, several Mayan hieroglyphic inscriptions mention dates far beyond December 21. These references not only show that the calendar is fluid and continuing, but that our sense of time leads to confusion and misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar.
Storniolo is a historical and comparative linguist and anthropologist. She has done field work among the Maya in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala since 1985. She has been a Chimicles Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks of Harvard, and the Senior Researcher for the Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project.
Her research interests include continuity and change in traditional cultures; Mesoamerican languages and culture; applied anthropology and public policy; language attrition and death; imperialism and contact phenomena; myth; Mayan hieroglyphics, culture and conflict; oral traditions and narratives; ideology and ritual; Mesoamerican ethnohistory; and Pre-Columbian literature.