The Tortuguero prophecy

Showing 1-28 of 28 messages
The Tortuguero prophecy David Stuart 4/6/06 7:37 PM
As promised here's a quick translation of the final passage of
Tortuguero Monument 6, recording the 2012 Bak'tun ending:

Tzuhtz-(a)j-oom u(y)-uxlajuun pik
(ta) Chan Ajaw ux(-te') Uniiw.
Uht-oom ?
Y-em(al)?? Bolon Yookte' K'uh ta ?.

"The Thirteenth 'Bak'tun" will be finished
(on) Four Ajaw, the Third of Uniiw (K'ank'in).
? will occur.
(It will be) the descent(??) of the Nine Support? God(s) to the ?."

This is it.  The term following uht-oom is the main puzzle, and largely
effaced. The "descent" reference is highly tentative, too.  The
enigmatic deity Bolon Yookte' K'uh has been known for some time
from many sources, and I suspect that he (or they) has some tangential
relationship to the Principal Bird Deity, as well as war associations.
 Interestingly, he is a protagonist in the deep time mythology of
Palenque, as recorded on Palenaue's Temple XIV tablet.  A
long-lasting character who's still around somewhere waiting, I suppose.

- Dave S.

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Pusilha 4/7/06 5:21 AM
Dear all,

Markus Eberl and myself have worked on Bolon (y)okte k'uh and presented
a paper on that topic during a conference on war in the Americas
entitled "Roads to War and Pipes of Peace: Conflict and Cooperation in
the Americas, Past and Present" (Bruxelles, 2002). The proceeding has
recently been published in a conference volume.

Please read our abstract:

Markus Eberl (Tulane University, New Orleans, USA) and
Christian Prager (University of Bonn, Germany):

Bolon Yokte K'u: Maya conceptions of war, conflict, and the

The deity Bolon Yokte K'u is shown here to have had a consistent
association with underworld, conflict, and war from the beginning of
the Classic period into Colonial times. Bolon Yokte K'u provides not
only an insight into the Maya conceptions of conflict but is also
helpful to see how the conceptions were implemented by the elite. The
authors demonstrate that the deity is a recurrent theme in Classic
period inscriptions, Postclassic codices and the Books of Chilam Balam
from the Colonial period. The variety of documents allows them to apply
a diachronic perspective that heightens the understanding of the deity
and that evinces variation over time. The concomitant appearance of
Bolon Yokte K'u in art and writing enables the authors to identify
the iconographic attributes of the deity. Several monuments can be
shown to depict elite persons dressed up as Bolon Yokte K'u. The
identification of Bolon Yokte K'u on the "Vase of the Seven Gods"
(K2796) underscores its importance as one of the gods that were present
during the creation of the present world.

RE: The Tortuguero prophecy Justin Kerr 4/7/06 5:38 AM
A very interesting identification. I would like to know if this deity also
appears on the Vase of the Eleven Gods (K7750)(here is the link to high
resolution images of the text.)
If not there is an inconsistency.
Justin Kerr
Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Pusilha 4/7/06 8:37 AM

If you are interested in reading our paper: Our article on that topic
appeared in the following book (I unfortunately have any pdf file of

Wars and Conflicts in Prehispanic Mesoamerica and the Andes. Edited
by Peter Eeckhout and Geneviève Le Fort, BAR International Series
1385, 2005. ISBN 1 84171 706 1, 146 pages.

The article can be found on pp. 28-36.

Christian Prager

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy David Stuart 4/7/06 8:49 AM
Dear Christian and Justin,

Christian -- thanks for the reference. I will be very interested to
read the newly published paper.

Justin, yes the Bolon Yookte'' K'uh glyph is in both texts (Vases of
Seven Gods and Eleven Gods).  Perhaps Christian and Marcus have
addressed this in their paper, but I think that the god names listed on
these two Naranjo vessels are best seen as categories or groupings of
gods.  We already find these three transparent collective terms for the
gods who are "ordered" on 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u (leaving out the ones that
are hard to analyze):

Chan-al K'uh, "the heavenly gods"
Kab-al K'uh, "the earrthly gods"
Ux ? K'uh (the Triad title), "the three ? gods"

So, I simply wonder if Bolon Yookte' K'uh can be seen as a similar
gouping of nine deities, even if these get to be collapsed as a more
individual entity (a very mesoamerican concept of divinity, we know).
certainly the impersonation of Bolon Yookte' K'uh by rulers, as on that
Bonampak-area panel or stela, implies a more concrete individual. The
question becomes: how do the "sets" of gods on the naranjo vessels
correspond to the portraits?  I have long been bothered by this, for
there is no neat correlation between name glyph and image.  The newer
Vase oif the Eleven Gods makes this ambiguity all the more obvious.  I
suspect that what we are seeing are potraits of one or more
"representatives" of the sets, such that the artist could pick and
choose from quite a variety.

- Dave

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Pusilha 4/7/06 9:13 AM
Dear Dave and Justin,

yes, the Vase of the Seven Gods is discussed in our paper. Since I am
writing my Ph.D. dissertation about a possible cognitive approach to
god concepts in Classic Maya culture (I meanwhile prefer the
designation "counterintuitive agents", gods, deities, ghost are
european concepts and phenomenology of religion is dead!!) - the main
topic of my research is the study of K'UH in all its contexts - I agree
with Dave that the representation of deities are not refering to an
individual, specific agent, but to a group of agents that are related
with the object, subject, place expressed in their name phrase: CHAB,
CHAN, IK' "JEWEL" TAN. My list of X-K'UH is still growing. The latter
one is interesting: it is a group of deities associated with IK'
"JEWEL" TAN - the place of origin (one of the place or course) in the
Palenque Creation texts. A study of all context reveals that in each
group of agents, we find a specific number of individual agents
identifiable with their proper name, as for example the 3 agents of the
Palenque Triade - variations of that concepts can be found in Caracol
and elsewhere, a more intense discussion will follow in my

Best wishes,


Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Meghan Rubenstein 4/7/06 1:09 PM
Is the 2012 inscription on the Tortuguero momument the latest recorded
date? Or are there other monuments and inscriptions with even later


Re: The Tortuguero prophecy David Stuart 4/7/06 1:45 PM
There area several later dates recorded in various sources, mentioning
calendar stations or other events taking place in the far, far future.
 One text at Palenque mentions, the Piktun ending that will
occur 7 Bak'tuns from now, more or less -- i.e., in about 2800 years.

- David Stuart

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Buddy 4/8/06 9:23 AM
I remain puzzled by the attempts to change accepted nomenclature whose
meanings are well understood for new cumbersome phrases such as
"counterintuitve agents," the meaning of which is cannot be clearly
ascertained from the words themselves and must be supplied by reference
to  the creator of the phrase. Within the engineering field there is an
international standards group which deals with precisely this type of
issue and when approprite promulgates new definitions and standards
which all persons in the field then accept. Our science does not have
such a body and we should therefore be careful not to create what
amounts to a private language the precise meaning of which is known
best by the creator. If we are to communicate with each other on
matters of substance, we should try to avoid letting definitional
issues get in the way of the issues.
Bertram Perkel

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/8/06 1:47 PM
You'll be interested to know that Dave's information about Tortuguero
Mon. 6 has become big news to the international crowd of 2012 watchers:

It's amazing how quickly word gets around the web.  (It wasn't me,

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy David Stuart 4/8/06 4:21 PM
Thanks, John. I'll believe it wasn't you!

I guess I should've known I was creating a monster with that initial
post. I particularly like "STOP THE PRESSES! AMAZING NEW DISCOVERY..."
Isn't it revealing that New Agers who pretend to know so much about
Classic Maya religion and prophecy consider the *one* ancient source on
the 2012 date to be a "new discovery."  The Tortuguero passage has been
known to the community of epigraphers for a long time, but no one ever
bothered to ask about it.

It might be easy to envision Tortuguero soon becoming a New Age
pilgrimage site, except that it's now pretty much gone, destroyed in
the 1960s by a cement factory.

- Dave

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/8/06 4:45 PM
An article that may be of interest to Mayanists is this recent one by
Bob Sitler, who just posted a drawing of Tortuguero Mon. 6 on his
website at'ak'tun/

Sitler, Robert K.
2006     The 2012 Phenomenon New Age Appropriation of an Ancient
            Mayan Calendar, Nova Religio 9 (3): 24-38.

According to the ancient Mayan Long Count calendar, a cycle of more
than 5,000 years will come to fruition on the winter solstice of 2012.
While this date is largely unknown among contemporary Maya, some
participants in the New Age movement believe it will mark an
apocalyptic global transformation. Hundreds of books and Internet sites
speculate wildly about the 2012 date, but little of this conjecture has
a factual basis in Mayan culture. This paper provides an overview of
the primary currents in the 2012 phenomenon, examines their sources,
and speculates about developments as this highly anticipated date

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Straydog 4/9/06 4:25 AM
The "AMAZING NEW DISCOVERY" is just that as far as the "2012 watchers"
are concerned, because the epigraphers have been keeping the
information to themselves, in fear if "creating a monster". However,
this secretive attitude is not the answer, because it leads to essays
by academics like Bob Sitler, who wrote the essay cited above by John,
in which Sitler attempts to de-fuse the "2012 bomb" by stating that
there are no unambiguos 2012 references in the Classic Maya texts. The
closed shop is so closed that the information has failed to reach
academics in adjacent fields, such as Sitler, who has a PhD in Hispanic
literature, and has only found out about the Tortuguero Monument 6
after writing his essay, which is now rendered mostly redundant by the

Not even Mike Finley seems to have included mention of  Tortuguero on
CODICES, The site is
fairly academic and non-sensational and has a section which seeks to
de-bunk various New Age misconceptions about the Maya. However, Finley is open to
the possiblity that the 13-baktun end-point was deliberately targetted.

I understand that it is necessary for Mayanists not to be seen as
fanning the flames of  a Y2K-like panic about 2012, but I also sense a
curiosity among Mayanists here around the vague possibility that the
Maya could have actually foreseen something at the end of the 13-baktun
cycle, that might actually come true on some level.

What do you think?


Re: The Tortuguero prophecy David Stuart 4/9/06 7:19 AM
I have to disagree that Mayanists have kept the Tortuguero passage to
themselves (ourselves), forn whatever reason. I posted the translation
here a few days ago in a very matter-of-fact way, which should indicate
that quite the opposite is true. And, anyway, it's not the way our
field works. I'm certain that if anyone had ever posed the question "Do
any Maya inscriptions mention 2012?" to us active epigraphers (me,
Houston, Martin, Mathews, Grube, Zender, Lacadena, Macleod, etc.), that
we would immediately say, "look at Tortuguero Monument 6." In these
days of email, discussion boards, and frequent open workshops like we
have at the Maya Meetings, there are endless opportunities to acquire,
exchange and disseminate information about this stuff, and that's a
wonderful thing. So, there is no "closed shop" in some ivory tower.
Remember, we're still in the midst of a remarkable time that continues
to assess the windfall that came from the recent decipherment, and
there's lots of catching up to do. Frankly, the Tortuguero passage,
buried in lots of other data, hasn't been a huge deal to most of us
because it is damaged and very, very ambiguous. There really isn't a
whole lot to say about it when all is said and done. And even if the
glyphs there were clear and legible, no Mayanist I know honestly
believes that the Classic Maya foresaw something that might actually
come true in our day and age.


Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Pusilha 4/9/06 8:53 AM

Dave is right - everybody can learn reading and UNDERSTANDING Maya
hieroglyphic inscriptions - either during the Texas Meetings in Austin,
or during the European Maya Meetings, this year to be held in Malmö,
Sweden. We epigrapher do not hide information - the inscriptions is
known since 30 years ... and the world, of course, does not end with - a new cycle starts - Nikolai Grube has recently written a
nice article on that in the German Archaeology Magazine "Abenteuer

Now another thing:
Although I don't see any reason to defend the use of new designations I
would like to pose the counter-question: are the terms god, deities,
ghost really really well understood and is their meaning really
transferable to our own culture to foreign ones? Please tell me, what
is a god? Is an agent with ghost-like attributes in Nuer culture the
same as in British Culture? How many overlappings must there be to say
that a ghost is a gost? Christian Theologists (especialy Thomas of
Aquine) define a god an agent with no body, with a human-like behavior,
three-fold, a person that knows everything? Using these characteristics
you would have problems finding "gods" in some other religions, the
same is with ghosts, ancestors etc. This is a problem of categorizing,
a problem well-know among ethnologist, anthropologist, philosophers
(read Wittgenstein!) ; one meter is one meter in natural science, but a
god is not a god! That's the difference. Cognitive anthropologists and
scientists of religion etc, were among the first to discuss this matter
in the 70s - and here´s the 'cognitive turn' in anthropology - please
have a look at the very inspiring book of Benson Saler "Conceptualizing
Religion: Immanent Anthropologist, Transcedent Natives, and Unboundes
Categorie", 1993 - especially the chapters on categories and problems
of defining "Religion".



Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/9/06 11:22 AM
For the record (and this was kindly pointed out to me by David Mora
-Marín), a drawing by Marc Zender of Tortuguero Monument 6 (with the
Long Count date 13 B'ak'tun 4 Ajaw 3 Kan'k'in) and a partial
translation of "Utam ?? Yem Ta???" was published as Fig. 120 of The
Proceedings of the Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop, March 9-10, 2002,
University of Texas at Austin, Palenque and Its Neighbors, presented by
Nikolai Grube, Simon Martin, and Marc Zender. The transcription of the
discussion of this monument (p. 112) says:

"Let's now finish with a happy text! This is the last passage from
Tortuguero Monument 6 (Fig. 120). This text does not refer to the end
of the world. It talks about the 4 Ajaw (O3) 3 K'ank'in (P3)
Period Ending (December 10, 2012). This is the end of the 13th b'ahktun
which we will see in the year 2012. What will happen? Well, utom, 'it
will happen' (O4) followed by something that we cannot read (P4) and he
'will descend' yem (O5). The last glyph (P5) begins with ta followed by
something. However, this is not the end of the world."

This workshop was open to the public and attended by a large audience.
The transcripts have also been available in libraries across the U.S.
If the "2012 watchers" missed it, it's because they weren't paying

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Jorge 4/9/06 11:33 AM
The "Amazing New Discovery" is such only to people who have not even
bothered to do the basic homework of getting to know the materials they
claim to be at the basis of their assertions. The whole corpus of
inscriptions has always been freely available to anyone interested. For
many years, anybody could place an order for a copy of the Tortuguero
inscriptions from Kinko's at Austin for a few dollars. This should show
anyone how much truth there is in the accusation that "epigraphers have
been keeping the information to themselves". As for learning how to
read these materials, aside from the many workshops and forums across
the US, there are a number of first-rate workbooks (readily available)
designed to teach how to read the inscriptions even by people with no
prior knowledge in the field (I should know, I am a commercial
photographer and I can read glyphs in a not completely incompetent
manner.) Accusing professional epigraphers of secrecy is not only
grossly inaccurate, as any of hundreds of attendees to the Maya
Meetings will be happy to confirm, but particularly unfair. I dare
anyone to find an academic field that is as actively open and
accessible to non-specialists as the field of Maya studies of which
epigraphy is a big part.


Re: The Tortuguero prophecy 4/9/06 7:08 PM
Dear David (& others),
I apologize for involving you in this when you were just being helpful.
I had inquired about the existence of 2012 texts in a related thread on
Aztlan, the query must have made its way to you, and you quite
generously offered your expertise. Thanks so much.

Linda Schele worked on my dissertation committee at UT when I studied
how Ladino writers such as Asturias created distorted portrayals of the
Maya in their novels. The  2012 phenomenom has clear parallels, some
that border on being neo-colonial.

The concept of world renewal imbedded in 2012 becomes especially
interesting in the context of indigenous resurgence in Bolivia, Ecuador
and (particularly this week) Guatemala. Since I wrote the article
referred to by John Hoopes, Mayan participation in shaping 2012
ideology has expanded rapidly. There was even a panel on 2012 last
summer at the Sexto Congreso Maya in Guat City. We all have six solid
years of fascinating times ahead of us.

All the best,

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Straydog 4/10/06 4:57 AM
I'm sorry if offense was caused by suggesting that epigraphers have
been keeping this to themselves. I accept that the information has been
available, if one knew where to look, but John's apology for letting
the cat out of the bag: "It's amazing how quickly word gets around the
web.  (It wasn't me, honest!)", (and Dave's reply of "Thanks, John.
I'll believe it wasn't you!"), speaks for itself.

Anyway, Dave's translation is very interesting in light of  the
prophecies preserved in the Chilam Balams, which mention "descent" and
the Nine gods, and which are associated with katun endings, if not (as
argued by Makemson), baktun endings. The first one is from the Chilam
Balam of Chumayel:

"Katun 4 Ahau . . . . The katun is established at Chichen Itzá.  The
settlement of the Itzá shall take place [there].  The quetzal shall
come, the green bird shall come.  Ah Kantenal  shall come.  Blood-vomit
shall come.  Kukulcan  shall come with them for the second time.  [It
is] the word of God.  (Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, XXII)"

In the Chilam Balam of Tizimin, (the version translated and with
commentary by Makemson), it is pointed out that the prophecies are
cyclic, and so would be pertinent to repeat endings of named katuns.
The rest of the quotes are from Makemson:

Four Ahau is the katun for remembering knowledge and compressing it
within annals.  (Makemson p.57)

"The Nine shall arise in sorrow, alas...And when over the dark sea I
shall be lifted up in a chalice of fire, to that generation there will
come the day of withered fruit. there will be rain. The face of the sun
shalll be extinguished because of the great tempest. Then finally the
ornaments shall descend in heaps. there will be good gifts for one and
all, as well as lands, from the Great Spirit, wherever they shall
settle down. Presently Baktun 13 shall come sailing, figuratively
speaking, bringing the ornaments of which I have spoken from your
ancestors. Then the god will come to visit his little ones. Perhaps
"After Death" will be the subject of his discourse."(Makemson p.30)

In the commentary, we find, "There is an unusual prophecy about the end
of the world on page 16: " the final days of misfortune, in the
final days of tying up the bundle of the thirteen katuns on 4 Ahau,
then the end of the world shall come and the katun of our fathers will
ascend on high". It is entirely possible that there is a copyist's
error here and that thirteen baktuns were intended, since the katun
cycle began and ended with 11 Ahau, we are told elsewhere, and the
thirteen baktun cycle ran from 4 Ahau to 4 Ahau. The prophecy
continues: "These valleys of the earth shall come to an end. For those
katuns there shall be no priests, and no one who believes in his
government without having doubts...Pay heed to the truth which I
present to you in the katun of dishonor. Shall my intercession, my
pleading be in vain? I speak to you! I Chilam Balam, the prophet of the
Jaguar! I recount to you the words of the true gods, when they shall
come." (Makemson p.167)

Another prophecy concerning the last katun of a series, (katuns started
being named after beginning instead of their ending, so katun 11 Ahau
became katun 13 Ahau), may have some bearing on the final katun of the
final baktun:

"Thirteen Ahau is the thirteenth katun and they shall count it at
Cabal. In the assemblage of people they shall open the sealed katun. At
dusk they shall smell the fragrance of flowers. Day shall be turned
upside down;. their faces shall be disturbed. The genealogical tree
shall descend. Stones shall descend and Heaven and Earth shall be
universally consumed by fire. They shall make a divination concerning
the living and the dead: 'The dead shall live! Dying from old age, they
shall immediately ascend into heaven. They shall ascend quickly by good
roads'. Evil roads descend, spreading out on the earth. At the end, in
the final days of the katun, we will hear the words of the fathers of
Heaven and Earth regarding the government of Katun 13 Ahau during his
days, at the completion of the katun. Vale." (p.107-108)

By the way, I don't think, and never have done, that this all refers to

the "end of the world".

All the best


Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/10/06 9:42 AM
> John's apology for letting the cat out of the bag...  (and Dave's reply of "Thanks, John.

I'll believe it wasn't you!"), speaks for itself.

I beg to differ.  There was no bag around that cat.

I began querying various Mayanists about their perception of the 2012
event as a followup to a discussion I had with Daniel Pinchbeck over
the Labor Day weekend.  I received comments to the effect of, "It's
surprising that no one has yet cited Tortuguero Monument 6," but there
was no hint of a coverup at all despite a general perception that the
inscription would be interpreted by many 2012 aficionados as a big
deal.  The reaction was anticipated.  I think it says a lot for
epigraphers that they have been circumspect about contributing to the
hype. 4/10/06 9:42 AM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: The Tortuguero prophecy 4/10/06 10:24 AM
If any of you have an extra moment, please let me know if you see
anything inaccurate or misrepresentative on my website of exclusively
Mayan perspectives on 2012:'ak'tun/
As you'll see, some of these Maya sources have been influenced by
Christian and other external ideologies.
BTW, is the word "b'ak'tun" in the glyphs, or is it a later invention?
Thanks, bob 4/13/06 12:50 PM <This message has been deleted.> 4/13/06 12:53 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/13/06 12:55 PM
There is a newly published article in the most recent (July 2006) issue

of Ancient Mesoamerica that is pertinent to this thread:

García Quintanilla, Alejandra (2006) Saak' y el retorno del fin del
mundo: La plaga de langosta en las profecías del katun 13 Ahau.
Ancient Mesoamerica 16(2): 327-344.

Published online by Cambridge University Press 28 Mar 2006.

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/13/06 1:16 PM
Te reference in the first sentence, "En el lugar de la zozobra..." made
me think immediately of the Zozobra festival in Santa Fé:

This in turn has significant similarities to the Burning Man festival:

Whose theme this year is "Hope and Fear: The Future," and relates
directly to Daniel Pinchbeck's upcoming "2012: The Return of
Quetzalcoatl," which brings us back to the Tortuguero prophecy.

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy Hoopes 4/13/06 1:34 PM
Sorry, that should be July 2005!

Re: The Tortuguero prophecy JMJenkins 4/13/06 2:30 PM
Hello All,
I was recently directed to this intriguing exchange and I'm new to this
list. I'd like to focus in on Geoff's final statement and David's
response. Geoff wrote:

"I also sense a curiosity among Mayanists here around the vague
possibility that the
Maya could have actually foreseen something at the end of the 13-baktun
cycle, that might actually come true on some level. What do you think?"

David responded:

"no Mayanist I know honestly believes that the Classic Maya foresaw
something that might actually come true in our day and age."

If we except the widely excepted December 21, 2012, isn't it striking
that it falls on a winter solstice? Wouldn't that suggest that the
creators of the Long Count had some interest in the future date when
the 13-baktun cycle would end?  Although the inscription on the
Tortuguero monument is ambiguous, it does call attention to the cycle
ending of the current 13-Baktun cycle. So, could the fact that the
13-baktun cycle ends on a solstice simply be a coincidence? None of
this has to cue "end of the world" laugh tracks, but it does seem to be
a direction for deeper inquiry.

As a brief teaser as to what we could explore here, please see:

To avoid confusion with the other John, call me JMJ

More topics »