4602 - Landa and the End of the World

2012ology—the global multimedia phenomenon surrounding the supposed Maya prediction that the world will end in 2012—seldom makes mention of Diego de Landa. But, we argue in this paper, Landa plays a crucial role in the 2012 story. For he and his fellow Franciscans in late-sixteenth century Yucatan were responsible for introducing apocalyptic ideology into Maya communities. As a result, the Franciscans altered the Maya world-view and made possible a variety of cultural developments and events—from Chilam Balam literature to the ideology of the Cruzob Rebels to 2012ology itself.

The paper combines analyses of textual evidence (traces of Landa’s apocalyptic world-view in his Relación), historical evidence (the hellfire events of 1562), and visual evidence (the architecture and murals of the massive Franciscan church at Izamal). We show that Landa shared his Order’s vision of the impending apocalypse, and communicated it dramatically to the Yucatec Maya. We then place Landa in a set of larger contexts: the deep-rooted Maya traditions of prophecy; the Franciscans in Yucatan; the Spiritual Conquest in Mesoamerica and its medieval European roots; the Western origins of 2012ology; and, finally, how that phenomenon has come back to Yucatan—where the prophetic tradition has persisted.

Palabras claves: Apocalypse, Franciscans, Yucatan, Maya, 2012

Autores: Restall, Matthew (Pennsylvania State University, Ud States of Am / USA)
Co-Autores: Amara Solari, Pennsylvania State University


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