Suggestions that ancient Mayans predicted an apocalypse –– or some other dramatic event –– on December 21, 2012, rely heavily on their reputed astronomical insight. These prophecies also rely on unlikely coincidences –– patterns that seem too compelling to be accidental.
Gerardo Aldana, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara, will highlight the errors of fact that underlie proposals of a Mayan prophecy at a UCSB Affiliates lecture on Tuesday, November 13. His talk, "The Mayan Apocalypse of 2012: A Perfect Storm of Misinformation," will also provide a historical example of a Mayan astronomical event from the city of Palenque during the Classic period (ca. 700 AD).
The lecture will begin at 5 p.m. at the University Club, 1332 Santa Barbara St. Admission is $10. Reservations can be made by calling (805) 893-2877 or by sending a check made payable to the UC Regents to the Office of Public Events, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-1135.
Aldana is a specialist in the recovery of ancient Mayan astronomy within religious and political contexts, as well as modern considerations of science education, economics, and the environment. He has worked on adapting science studies methodology to address the astronomy and calendrics of Mesoamerican archaeological data, particularly in architectural orientations and Mayan hieroglyphic texts.
Aldana's current research focuses on the Venus Table in the Dresden Codex, a screenfold and bark paper manuscript from the Postclassic period. His most recent projects involve indigenous medicine and the origins of Mesoamerican calendrics.