Maya archaeologists unearth new 2012 monument
http://phys.org/
Condensed by Native Village

Guatemala: Archaeologists have found a 1,300 year-old year-old Maya text that refers to the “end date” for the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012.  Discovered at the Maya ruins of La Corona, the stone provides only the second known reference to this date in Mayan time.

“This text talks about ancient political history rather than prophecy,” says Marcello A. Canuto from Tulane.  “This new evidence suggests that the 13 Bak’tun date was an important calendrical event that would have been celebrated by the ancient Maya; however, they make no apocalyptic prophecies whatsoever regarding the date."

For the past 5 years, Canuto and Tomás Barrientos Q. (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala) have directed the La Corona Regional Archaeological Project (PRALC). This year, they decided to excavate in front of a building heavily damaged by looters looking for carved stones and tombs.

“Last year, we realized that looters of a particular building had discarded some carved stones because they were too eroded to sell on the antiquities black market,” said Barrientos, “so we knew they found something important, but we also thought they might have missed something.”

Ten other discarded hieroglyphic stones been found, along with something the looters missed entirely: an untouched step with a set of 12 carved stones still in their original location.

 

Combined with the known looted blocks, the original staircase had at least 264 hieroglyphs. This makes it among the longest ancient Maya texts known, and the longest in Guatemala.

In 1997, Dr. David Stuart from the University of Texas/Austin was part of the original expedition to La Corona. He's been deciphering the hieroglyphic texts ever since.  Stuart says the stairway inscriptions relate 200 years of La Corona's political history, along with that of its allies and enemies. Some stones portray rulers accepting tribute, dancing, and preparing to play the Maya ballgame.

Another unexpected discovery was made on stairway block bearing 56 carved hieroglyphs. The block tells of a royal visit to La Corona in AD 696 by the most powerful Maya ruler of that time, Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ of Calakmul. For centuries, Calakmul had been an extremely powerful kingdom until its king was defeated in battle by his longstanding rival, Tikal, on August 3, 695.

“Scholars had assumed that the Calakmul king died or was captured in this engagement” says Stuart, “but this new extraordinary text from La Corona text tells us otherwise.”

It turns out that the defeated Calakmul king was neither killed nor captured. In fact, he may have been visiting La Corona and other trusted allies to allay their fears after his defeat.

But the reference to the year 2012 -- does it provide a prophecy of what is to come?

No. The reference has more to do with events in the 7th rather than 21st century.

The key to understanding the 2012 reference is a unique title that this Calakmul king gives himself. In the text, he calls himself the “13 K’atun lord”— that is, the king who presided over and celebrated an important calendar ending, the 13th K’atun cycle (9.13.0.0.0). This event had occurred just a few years before in AD 692. In order to place his legacy in an eternal setting, the king connects himself to the next higher period of the Maya when the calendar reached the same 13 number: December 21, 2012 (13.0.0.0.0).

“This 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,” says Stuart.

This evidence is consistent with the only other reference to the 2012 date in ancient Maya inscriptions—Monument 6 from Tortuguero, Mexico.

“What this text shows us is that in times of crisis, the ancient Maya used their calendar to promote continuity and stability rather than predict apocalypse,” Canuto said.