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Original Message Introduction

The so-called “end of the world” – scheduled for the winter solstice of 2012 by cer-tain groups of people – is moving rapidly into public focus. The topic receives ever more publicity in the media; Hollywood has even jumped in with Roland Emmerich’s disaster film “2012”. There is a burgeoning fascination with this event in the litera-ture and on the internet – most of it arising outside the scientifically-based field of pre-Columbian studies, instead approaching the topic from an esoteric or New Age point of view. In 2006, Robert Sitler examined the esoteric side of the “2012 Phe-nomenon” and its (pseudo)-religious impact (Sitler 2006), so we will not put further attention on this aspect of the date. But since it is inevitable that our conclusions will find their way into the apocalyptic current, we hope they will not be excessively mis-construed.
Apart from the influential prophecies for the K’atun 4 Ajaw in the Chilam Balam of Tizimín (MS pp. 19-20, Edmonson 1982: 168-171) and other sources, the main and most cited source for this “millennial current” (Sitler 2006: 33) in the popular percep-tion is the right panel of Tortuguero Monument 6 (Gronemeyer 2006: 157-161, pl. 12, Figure 1).
Several scholars have previously contributed to our understanding of the inscriptions of TRT Mon. 6 (Riese 1978, 1980: 10-16, Arellano Hernández 2006: 100-111)1, in-cluding specific focus on the phrase involving the Bak’tun ending of (Eberl & Prager 2005: 32, Gronemeyer 2006: 45, Arellano Hernández 2006: 107, fig. 55, Houston 2008, Van Stone 2009, 2010).

This will occur on the 21st of December, 2012, according to the (584.283) GMT correlation. The most recent and complete study of the Tortuguero corpus has been conducted by Sven Gronemeyer (2004, 2006). It has become clear that new information from the passage dealing with the Bak’tun ending (blocks O2-P5) can be retrieved which was not considered in previous analyses.

More importantly, fruitful discussions with fellow epigraphers and Maya scholars dur-ing 2009 and 2010 have enabled us to narrow down what events may be related to the period ending. This paper will offer the substance of these discussions and provide new options for the understanding of this text.

The first part of this endeavour will provide an epigraphic and grammatical analysis of the right panel of TRT Mon. 6. A following synopsis will offer a comprehensive dis-cussion and a glimpse of what the Maya of seventh-century Tortuguero expected to happen on the occasion of the 13th Bak’tun ending.

The decision to commit these new data on Monument 6 to publication was that of Sven Gronemeyer. Drawing upon his extensive research on Tortuguero, he has pro-vided in large measure the background data on the site, its hieroglyphic texts, and its external political affiliations. He wrote a lengthy first draft with all the initial epi-graphic and grammatical identifications as well as pertinent ethnographic material. Barbara MacLeod, via the 2009 and 2010 group discussions and her subsequent con-tributions, offers the final grammatical analyses, an overview of the entire Monument 6 text, and some new hieroglyph readings – both hers and others’. She also edited and proofread the manuscript prior to submission. As co-authors, we generally do not distinguish between individual positions throughout the article unless a distinc-tion is necessary for argument’s sake.

Before we begin our analysis, some introductory remarks are in order so that we may embed the discussion about the Bak’tun ending in a greater context. The basics of calendrical mechanics and the Mayas’ reckoning of time are a necessary prerequi-site to any testimony regarding “what will not happen in 2012” (Houston 2008).

The Calendrical Framework

continuous reckoning of days from a certain zero point forward (Morley 1915: 60). Arithmetically it is, 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk’u (11th Aug 3114 BC). This day is known as the beginning of the current creation (cf. Schele 1992). In Classic inscriptions, however, the Long Count for this event never appeared in its mathematically “cor-rect” form with zero coefficients for the period denominators. On QRG St. C, A1-A5, we have the Long Count noted as Even when the Classic Maya recorded the creation date with period bases not less than the Bak’tun, these are noted not with the coefficient zero, but with 13. On COB St. 1, M1-M13 we thus have the huge notation of On p. 52 of the Dresden Codex (Carl Callaway, w.c., 21st Apr 2010) we also find an era date (thirteen times a coefficient 13).

As the Calendar Round proves in all cases, it is nevertheless the same 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk’u date. These kinds of notations are not an arithmetical date, but are rather symbolic and heavenly, as the number 13 suggests. There is another reason why the coefficient 13 was employed, as will be explained below. The enumeration of all these (theoretically infinite) period bases above the regular five-digit Long Count was a means to convey the extensiveness of time. Even historical dates utilise this kind of notation, as on YAX HS. 2 Step VII, I1-P2, where we have, 3 Muluk 17 Mak, or simply It seems that this notation was only conventionalised during the Late Classic. A differ-ent system is visible on TIK St. 10, A7-B13 with, dating to January 506.

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