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13 Bak’tun: New Maya Perspectives in 2012

September 18, 2012 - January 24, 2013

December 21, 2012, marks the end of the current great cycle in the Maya Long Count calendar. The advent of this date has prompted numerous publications, films, and discussions, with the question “Will the world end in December 2012?” dominating the discourse. Noteworthy in these examinations, however, is the absence of contemporary Maya people, explaining what 2012 means to them.

With “13 Bak’tun: New Maya Perspectives in 2012,” the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is placing the calendric reckoning of 2012 within a larger historical and cultural context and including the voices of Maya people

The Maya word bak’tun signifies a calendric cycle of 400 years of 360 days, and the ancient inscriptions indicate that once the 13th bak’tun is reached, the Long Count cycle starts over. The two-day symposium “13 Bak’tun” capitalizes on the University’s extensive library resources and academic programs in Maya civilization.

Exhibitions, lectures, open classes, multimedia presentations, and poetry readings will showcase the holdings of the University Library and its Rare Book Collection—where the George E. and Melinda Y. Stuart Collection of Maya materials resides—and demonstrate the breadth of Maya scholarship and activity at UNC, home to the Yucatec Maya Summer Institute.  Invited scholars, writers, and activists from Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize will give witness to the current cultural renaissance of the Maya, who developed the most enduring pre-Columbian writing system of the Americas.

All components of this symposium are free and open to the public. Registration is recommended but not required.


Check individual events for specific locations, dates and times.

“13 Bak’tun” is hosted at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the Douglass Hunt Lecture of Carolina Seminars, Friends of the Library, the Institute for the Study of the Americas, the Rare Book Collection at Wilson Library, and UNC Global. Additional support comes from the American Indian Center; the Carolina Digital Library and Archives; the Departments of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Romance Languages and Literatures; the Latin American, Iberian, and Latina/o Studies section of the Library; the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center; the Research Laboratories of Archaeology; and the School of Law.

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September 18, 2012
January 24, 2013
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