Guatemala City: A
1,300-year-old Mayan text discovered in Guatemala provides the
second known reference to December 21, 2012, touted as the world's
end date. However, archaeologists believe it has more to do with
political history than the prophecy.
"This text talks about ancient political history rather than
prophecy," says Marcello A. Canuto, director of Tulane's Middle
American Research Institute (MARI) and co-director of the
excavations at La Corona in Guatemala.
The discovery, one of the most significant hieroglyphic finds in
decades, was announced June 28 at the National Palace in
Guatemala, according to a MARI statement.
Canuto and Tomas Barrientos of the Universidad del Valle de
Guatemala, directing La Corona excavations, a site previously
ravaged by looters, found the longest text ever discovered in
"Last year, we realised 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," added Barrientos.
Carved on staircase steps, it records 200 years of La Corona
history, states David Stuart, director of the Mesoamerica Center
at the University of Texas (Austin), US, who was part of a 1997
expedition that first explored the site.
While deciphering these new finds in May, Stuart recognised the
2012 reference on a stairway block bearing 56 delicately carved
It commemorated 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, only a few months after his defeat by long-standing
rival Tikal in AD 695.
Thought by scholars to have been killed in this battle, this ruler
was visiting allies and allaying their fears after his defeat.
"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.
So, rather than prophesy, the 2012 reference places this king's
troubled reign and accomplishments into a larger cosmological
"In times of crisis, the ancient Maya used their calendar to
promote continuity and stability rather than predict apocalypse,"