As always, when it comes to anything having to do with Maya 2012, your first assumption should always be “don’t believe the hype.” That seems to be true with the new story by Associated Press today, “Mexico acknowledges 2nd Mayan reference to 2012.” Until now, the only known direct reference to December 21, 2012 is a 1300-year-old inscription on Tortuguero Monument 6, found near Tabasco, Mexico. Headlines today are announcing a possible second reference to 2012 on an artifact known as the “Comalcalco Brick,” the sketch of which is pictured above. Interestingly, the mere mention of a second ancient reference to 2012 (which, by the way, is probably NOT even a reference to 2012), even one which says nothing about any event or prophecy, is still apparently a license for the media pull the A-word (“apocalypse”) back out of their pockets.
But Dr. Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center and a former student of Linda Schele, who assembled the team which broke the code of Maya hieroglyphics in 1973, has seen photos of the brick and told me in an email that he is “of the opinion that [the Comalcalco Brick] does not reference 2012, or at least there is not enough information to say. It would be like finding a broken tombstone that said December 21st and concluding that it was said December 21st, 1968.”
Dr. Barnhart continues: “Comalcalco and Tortuguero were nearby cities, both in Tabasco, and they fought against each other during the same time both of these inscriptions were made (the 600s AD). The Comalcalco inscription is one or thousands found on the back of mud bricks â€” fragmentary, sloppy, and absolutely meaningless without any larger context. The article being copied about today says the date does relate to the 13th Bakâ€™tun, but there is no reason whatsoever to say that. There remains only one reference to December 21, 2012 in the entire corpus of Maya inscriptions, and even its meaning is unclear.”
The constant flow of discoveries, debunkings, and lively debate among Maya studies scholars is one of the many fascinating things about the Maya world. No matter what you or I believe the Comalcalco brick suggests, we both appreciate Maya culture and history, and we both like to travel in the region.