Maya Monument with glyphs, 4th-9th centuries
This stone monument carved with glyphs comes from Tortuguero, a Maya archeological site in southernmost Tabasco, Mexico that has been badly damaged by development. The monument is in a museum in Tabasco, and the smaller fragment is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The inscription on the monument is the only one known that mentions 2012 as the end of the current era in the Maya Long Count linear calendar. Scholars explained over and over that Maya scribes did this in order to situate the event described in the glyphs—the ritual dedication of a building by the ruler of Tortuguero who calls himself “Lord Jaguar”—in time. Throughout the text, the sculptor makes reference to future and past calendric period endings, similar to our saying something like "just after the New Year," or “right before Thanksgiving in 2010.” Lord Jaguar also boasts about his conquests in the inscription, with descriptions of pools of blood and piles of skulls. Despite the explanations of scholars, prophecy seekers interpreted this the way they wanted, reading its descriptions of past events as predictions for a future doomsday or spiritual transformation. Books, movies, TV programs, newspaper articles, Youtube videos, and online conspiracy-mongering added to the hype, and the Maya calendar became a part of the world view of those featured on the National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” reality series.
The source is part of the teaching module on Maya writing.
Stela Fragment with Glyphs, 4th–9th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art