Countdown to 12-21-2012

Monday, March 1, 2010

Geoff Stray on Tortuguero Monument 6

If you look long enough, you will eventually find something worthwhile.

As you may or may not know, I teach a course called Mayan Hieroglyphs, The Calendar and 2012.

I have been studying the Maya over a period of 40 years. I worked on a doctorate in Mayan Studies at Tulane University. Since then I have occasionally taught courses on Mayan culture and archaeology, and reading hieroglyphs at Sonoma State University and recently at Santa Rosa Junior College. In a couple of weeks, I start a course at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA.

A number of years ago, I was doing research on the origin of the Mayan calendars. Calendars usually begin with a significant event. Birth or death of a prophet, reign of a king or lineage, inauguration of a kingdom or country. I could find no such event in Mayab 'Mayaland' because on the date that researchers generally agree on, August 11, 3114, there was no need for a calendar. People were living in small villages. There was no 'government'. People's lives corresponded to the cycles of nature - there was no need to record time.

However, in Egypt, the first dynasty was in progress and they already had their hieroglyphic writing system. I'll write more about my ideas on the connections between Egypt and the Maya at another time.

When John Major Jenkins came out with his theory that the calender was designed with an even that would occur at the completion of a cycle in mind, then worked backward to establish a start date, I was a convert. He made a very good case for it and I was impressed with the extent of his research. He had read all the right books and spoken to all the right people. Being outside academe, he was free to state the obvious and, it seems to me, there are those who are p'o ed that they didn't think of it first. (See my article on 7 Makaw).

I decided to update my hieroglyph course to include the 2012 material and jumped on the 2012 bandwagon. After all, I did spend many years of my life and a lot of money studying this stuff and if I could shed some light on it for newbies, so much the better. I am a good teacher to beginners because I know how to break material down into digestible units. In six weeks, my students accomplish what it took me years to do, because I know how to go back to beginners mind.

Anyway... on to the point of this posting.

As 2012 approaches and I prepare to teach my courses, I continue to read everything I can get my hands on - academic or channelled. I want to cover all the bases and see what everyone has to say, because, after all, we won't know until we get there who was/is right. I only present academic material in class, because it creates a foundation from which students can better understand and evaluate what is being said. Besides, I am not there to promote my own interpretation - although I do have one.

Needless to say there is a lot of repetition on the Internet. People who don't have a clue about what they are saying merely repeat what so and so said.

But today I hit pay dirt. Clearly Geoff Stray has done plenty of homework. His lengthy article on Graham Hancock's Forum is eight information-packed pages long.

He shows connections between many cultures and traditions. He is a 'lumper' one who shows the connections between ideas, which is often the opposite of most anthropologists and historians who pride themselves on being experts of a micro-milli segment of life and then want to promote its uniqueness. Most academics are 'splitters', tending to look at cultures as distinct units in isolation.

The focus for this incredible article is the Tortuguero Monument 6, which is only extent Mayan text which actually refers to December 21, 2012.

The site of Tortuguero, Tabasco hardly ever appears on a map because it was buried under a cement plant for years. Many of it's artifacts are damaged or lost. The text on monument 6 is the subject of much speculation and discussion these days since some of the important glyphs are just too damaged to read.

While it was discovered a few decades ago, I believe the interest in the text was renewed by the "2012 phenomenon". I think academics were motivated to look for 'evidence' by the New Age community. Did the Maya say anything about the 'end date'? There are a few texts that refer to the last time the calendar read, referred to as the Creation Day on the Quirigua C monument. There are texts at Palenque which refer events that occurred a few years before 'Creation Day'. But, to date, the only hieroglyph inscription that refers to the completion of 13 baktuns that will occur on December 21, 2012 is on the Tortuguero Monument 6. This is not to say there aren't others, but so far, they have not come to light.

Naturally, there is a great deal of discussion about the exact meaning and since so much of the text is unreadable, an exact interpretation is impossible since the meaning exists in a context. Mayan words, like those in other languages have different meaning depending on context.

Still, the interpretations that have been offered are intriguing. One of the more reliable interpretations follows:

The ancient Mayan monument known as Tortuguero Monument 6 has been deciphered by Dr. David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin.

The original text and the translation of Dr Stuart are:

…uhtiiy waxak Chuwen b’olon(te’) Mak
hekwaniiy K’anjalnaah
Upib’naah Ahkal K’uk’.
Cha’ b’olon winikij ux ha’b’ waxak winikha’b’(?) ux pik
tzuhtz-(a)j-oom u (w)uxlajuun pik
(ta) chan Ajaw ux(te’) Uniiw
uhtoom ..?..
ye..?.. B’olon Yookte’ ta ..?..

…(long ago) it happened, the day Eight Chuwen, the ninth of Mak
when the Becoming-Ripe-House was constructed(?).
It was the ‘underground house’ (shrine) of (the god) Ahkal K’uk’.
It was two and nine-score days, three years, eight-score years and 3 x 400 years
(before) the Thirteenth Bak’tun will end
on Four Ajaw, the third of Uniiw,
when ..?.. it will occur,
the descent..?.. of B’olon Yookte’ at ..?..

(It will be) the descent(??) of the Nine Support? God(s) to the ?

The question marks refer to glyphs that are unreadable or where the meaning is in dispute. The parentheses show elements that are either implied or dependant on context.

There is a lot of discussion on the Internet regarding the identity of B'olon Yookte' (which may be written in a number of ways).

You can view Geoff Stray's article by clicking here.

Click the graphic to go to Graham Hancock's website.