December 21st was the 183rd end of the world in history. This is the number of end of the world events that Pierre Baron counted for Historia. Called “End of Days”, “Judgment Day”, or “Ragnarök” in Norse mythology, the end of the world fascinates all civilizations: it is always mysterious, spectacular, and radical.
Understanding the end of the world as the end of an era
The end of the world 2012 has its origin in the complex Mayan calendar: several calendar systems were superimposed, including a cyclic calendar of 260 days, or 365 days.
In particular the “long count” is a cycle of 5,125 years. This cycle began in 3 114 BC, which leads to December 21, 2012 (or 23 for some). The end of this cycle would sound the end of an era, or even more strictly the end of the world. In the same spirit, some so-called “New Age” currents assimilate this end rather to an upheaval: the world would still exist, but would not be at all like before.
How the world sees the world
This enigmatic title is to be understood simply: how have humans perceived and defined the world over the centuries? In ancient times, especially among the Greeks, people believed in a closed world. The world was only a finite cosmos, limited in space. The progress of science leads modern society to consider the world as infinite. As well in the infinitely large: the world is always in expansion, and does not cease growing. As well as in the infinitely small: the precision of microscopes is no longer enough, each particle is divided into smaller parts, themselves divisible, leading to the theories of quantum mechanics for example.
The apocalypse, also called apocalyptic, develops in the first century BC among the Jews as a literary enterprise to tell the revelation of God, rather chaotic, and then is attached to the idea of end times. The term apocalypse comes from the Latin apocalypsis, “revelation”, itself derived from the Greek apokálupsis, “discovery”. The Apocalypse, in its best known designation, corresponds to a book written by John, and included in the Bible. Written in metaphorical form, the work entitled Book of Revelation describes the end of a world, through numerous symbols.