Mayan date political, not about 'end of days'
MANILA, Philippines - You may now proceed with your New Year's Eve plans on December 31, 2012 - the world isn't really ending, even if you subscribed to that so-called Mayan prophecy.
The second known reference in Mayan culture to the alleged "end of the world" on December 21, 2012, has been deciphered, and archaeologists found out that it is actually a reference linked to a politically turbulent period in their history.
The said reference to December 21, 2012 was discovered in a 1,300-year-old text, at the La Corona site in Guatemala, between April and May this year.
Designated as Hieroglyphic Stairway 2, the block of Mayan hieroglyphics contained "a number of important historical information about La Corona's political history," as well as a "curious" reference to the now-infamous date, said Dr. David Stuart, professor of Art History at The University of Texas at Austin.
Approximately two centuries' worth of La Corona's "political history, its allies and its enemies, and it is the longest text ever discovered in Guatemala," UT Austin said in a press release.
"The monument commemorated a royal visit to La Corona in AD 696 by the most powerful Maya ruler of that time, a few months after his defeat by a long-standing rival in AD 695," Stuart was quoted as saying. "It was a time of great political turmoil in the Maya region, and this king felt compelled to allude to a larger cycle of time that happens to end in 2012."
"This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy," Marcello Canuto of the Tulane University's Middle American Research Institute said. "In times of crisis, the ancient Maya used their calendar to promote continuity and stability rather than to predict apocalypse."
"While perhaps disappointing to some, the newly found inscription has no prophetic message regarding what will happen in 2012. So why only mention the date but say nothing directly about its meaning or significance? Because it’s a future station of a big calendar cycle and so it was seen as worthy of mention in its own right," Stuart wrote on the "Maya Decipherment" blog.
"Ancient Maya scribes liked to record the comings and goings of various periods in their calendar, including future ones, because they were intimately tied to their political and religious life. In two texts they tied this future bak’tun ending to their contemporary world, mostly because of interesting numerological patterns that seemed cosmically relevant," he added.
A bak'tun is a measurement in the Maya Long Count Calendar, equivalent to 394.26 years, of 144,000 days. The current bak'tun, the 13th, is set to end on December 21, 2012.
The more famous Mayan reference to the December 21, 2012 date is the one in Tortuguero Mexico, found in the site named Monument 6, which has been known since the 1980s.
The La Corona Regional Archaeological Project started in 1997, with the first expedition to the fabled classical Mayan city and its surrounding jungle in Guatemala. It gained fame due to the number of important relics that were lost or damaged by looters. The Hieroglyphic Stairway 2 was among the parts that were left untouched.
The findings were announced by Stuart, along with Canuto and Tomas Barrientos of the Universidad del Valle Guatemala, on Friday, June 29, in Guatemala City. - Rappler.com