On December 21, 2012, the day of the winter solstice, one cycle of the Mayan calendar comes to an end. According to doomsday preppers and prophets, that the day the world will end, whether from a planetary collision, a reversal in Earth's magnetic field or explosion the sun's surface that will knock out earth's power grids.
Cancun Maya Museum — Photo courtesy of Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau
Prominent scientists, including those at NASA, have debunked the doom-and-gloom rumors, stating that the Mayan calendar begins a new cycle on December 22 just as the calendar in your office begins anew on January 1. No planetary alignments are set to occur during the next couple decades, and none would have a significant impact on the earth if they did occur. If that still doesn't put your mind at ease, NASA experts say that if a planet or other celestial body were on a collision course with Earth, it would be visible to the human eye by now; so if you don't see it, it's not coming. At least not yet.
Ancient Mayan sculpture — Photo courtesy of Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau
Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History has taken the side of scientists and skeptics with a $15 million venture that took six years to complete: the Cancun Maya Museum. Now visitors to Mexico's most popular beach town can soak up a little culture between sun bathing sessions. The museum houses 350 ancient Mayan artifacts, many never displayed in public before. More than 30 years of research went in to gathering the collection that now occupies the 55,000-square foot exhibition space.
Exhibit Piece — Photo courtesy of Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau
The crown jewel in the collection is the 14,000-year-old skeletal remains of the Woman of the Palms recovered from an underwater cave near Tulum. The woman, thought to have lived in the Ice Age, was recovered in 2002 and, according to experts, resembles a person of Southeast Asian decent, indicating that Mexico's aboriginal population could have arrived via boat thousands of years ago. The museum, located in Cancun's hotel zone near the San Miguelito archaeological site, also houses sculptures, architectural fragments, engraved bricks, wildlife remains, stone tools and ancient Mayan works of art.
Hologram of Woman of the Palms — Photo courtesy of Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau
While believers in the apocalyptic prophecies may see the museum as a wasted effort given our impending doom, local tourism officials see it as an exciting opportunity to usher in a new era.