Anything? (21.12. 8:15 GMT)

Well of course not! Nothing out of the ordinary will happen. No (apocalyptic) earthquakes, no volcanic eruption, no giant Planet-X/Nibiru/whatever-they-call-it coming towards earth, no reversal of polarity of earths magnetic field… And – at least with me – no jump on a higher level of conscious awareness.

Just remember, that we only know of two archaeologic findings that refer to tomorrow. One’s context is unclear and the other is written in a symbolic sense, signifying a long span of time.

One very special thing today however is the Google Doodle. Great idea and great look:



Got nothing to do with your last hours on earth (hey, some still believe, something will happen)? Just try to decipher what is written there and if it makes sense. The Glyph books of Mark Pitts, which we featured in a previous article, might be helpful in that task. Please contact me with any results or worries at

Anyways, 8:15 means only 15.75 hours left in GMT for the earth to somehow turn itself out. Oh and the next post will be post #100, which feels like a worthy coincidence.

Posted in 2012 Countdown, Calendar, Misconception | 1 Comment

Scanning the news for any cataclysmic events? (20.12.,19:30 GMT)

No luck so far in finding any catastrophes? Don’t worry folks! As we’ve established in the very first post of this blog, nothing bad will happen – just a rare configuration of an elaborated calendar of an astonishing civilization.

Just prepare for the new b’ak’tun, beginning at 22nd of December, right after 23:59! That will be in roughly 28.5 hours in GMT.

Enjoy your upcoming (December 21st) while it lasts and prepare your champaigne.


picture: Albert Bridge/

Posted in 2012 Countdown, Calendar, Misconception | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What about those inscriptions in Guatemala referring to 2012?

After a long time, I want to continue this blog with a short and rough article about the recent discovery of insprictions in Guatemala. The media says they are very important for the topic of 2012 and I’m sure many of you wonder, if this is another exagerration of the media or if it is in fact true. Did the Maya think, there would be an apocalypse after all? Is the finding important? Well, let’s say it like this: I’m in the midst of prepararing my presentation for an event about the Maya myth and the 2012 phenomenon, and I had to change some aspects in it. So there you have a first clue for the importance of this finding.

Up until some days ago, if someone would have asked me about the importance of the date 23.12.2012 for the Maya, I would have answered, that there is only one single inscription, which refers to this date and that everything else is merely speculation and interpretation about what the Maya thought about it. Now, however, I would have to say, that there are exactly two inscriptions, that we know of.

And this is the new one…
Picture: Tulane University via

At the archaeological site of La Corona (formerly known as Site Q, ) in the northern part of Guatemala, the La Corona Archaeological Project (PRALC) found a staircase with several inscriptions. David Stuart (whom we referred in several articles before) deciphered the writings. The inscribed stones, are about 1.300 years old and one of them refers to the infamous date, that we all like to talk about and at which nothing will happen. But what does it say exactly?

First of all, it doesn’t refer to any prophecy – in fact, it’s rather political: King Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ from Calakmul was visiting La Corona after a defeat he suffered by the rivaling troops of Tikal. For a long time it has been the interpretation that the king died in this defeat or that he was captured. Now we know, he didn’t, so there’s one reason, why we call it a very important finding. Furthermore, king Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ had given himself a very special name, and here we come to the reason for the reference to 2012: He was called 13 K’atun lord – the lord who reigns in the 13th K’atun cycle lasting 7.200 days. Those of you who carefully studied the article about the Maya calendar know exactly what this means.

To show his unbroken will and to motivate his allies to stand by him, it was announced – and later inscribed on this staircase – that his kingdom would last until the next place in the Maya calendar would also reach the magical number 13: the 13th B’ak’tun or! Yuknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’ puts himself in a large cosmological context, from to, strengthening his power. And this last date is exactly the date, that everybody keeps talking about, the 23rd of December 2012.

So there you have it! That’s – in short – why there is this special date on this special inscription. No prophecy, no apocalypse – but certainly furter evidence, that the date was of vital importance for the Maya. A historical date, the completition of a cyle – and that only happens every 144,000 days. Reason enough to celebrate! But certainly no reason to panic.

For further information, aside from the magazines, I would like to refer you to several places:

  • David Stuart’s topic relevant article
  • The PRALC homepage of the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University
  • The press release of the PRALC of the 28th of June
  • The presentation about the findings the PRALC gave
  • Posted in 2012 Countdown, Archaeology, Deciphering, Maya | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

    One year to go!

    While it seems as if I was carelessly neglecting TCMAM in the last weeks and months (although I have good excuses from my professional life), some time has passed and the world didn’t stop turning. So it happens to be the 21st of December 2011 today and if we believe certain (let’s call them) “theories”, the world ends in exactly one year.

    In the meantime the German tabloid BILD, which many of you readers might know from the report about the Treasure Hunt in Guatemala for which TCMAM was cited in a scientifical article, expresses rather reasonable thoughts in an article (German: part1, part2). Regarding the way they talked about these things just some months ago, this is actually suprising. They even realized that the Aztec Sun Stone is not a calendar and especially not the Maya one.

    Lastly they cite the renowned epigrapher Nikolai Grube, also one of my main sources for details and verification about the Maya. The answer he gives to BILD’s question “What did the Maya know about the year 2012?” is a wonderful reaction and thus I want to use it to herald the last year of the 2012 Countdown:

    “The Maya were far too intelligent to not know, that time can’t simply cease or stop. When the 13th Bak’tun ends in December 2012, the 14th Bak’tun begins. And this won’t be accompanied by severe destructions. There are prophecies of the Maya for a time far beyond 2012.”

    This might not be satisfying or spectacular enough for many people, but it is probably true. Let’s see how public opinion will develop about this topic during the next 365 years until we can celebrate a new Bak’tun.

    Until then, don’t miss the explaining articles in the several categories on this blog.

    "And I, Tonatiuh, am STILL not a calendar, you know..."
    picture: El Comandante/wikipedia/cc-by-sa

    Posted in 2012 Countdown, Calendar | Tagged , | Leave a comment

    Happy 1st Birthday to TCMAM

    TCMAM turned 1 year old!!!!!

    Second lolcat this year...

    Nobody came to the party, because it was already two days ago! One year and two days ago it was, that the article What is wrong with the Mayan Calendar? was published. Shame on me, I haven’t been around to celebrate. But here it is, the birthday article.

    Chacmool: I approve of TCMAM
    (plus: proof of overaverage imaging skills)
    original picture: FlickreviewR/

    A good moment for some statistics.

    94 posts have been published on this blog (excluding this one) – more or less regularly – in 31 different categories, covering a broad range of topics. TCMAM has been cited in a scientific article about science communication. It was also asked to cover the treasure hunt in Guatemala for a big German watchblog. A lot has happened so far, and a lot will happen.

    This blog had a solid 42,001 views that year – and I simply have to ask who was the tease, that messed up this perfectly round number in the last second. …

    The top 3 posts (not regarding the home page, of course) are:
    Mathematician knows location of lost Maya Gold
    What is wrong with the Mayan calendar? (the first post ever)
    Writing (or sort of) in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica

    Thanks for your very valued interest, your comments and your regular visits. TCMAM will continue at least for another year and some weeks. Then the 21st December of 2012 approaches and everything will be over anyway… or not? If you have any request, topics, propositions, critique or praise, or also interesting content of your own, please contact me at

    Finally I feel most honored to give you Stephen Fry with his best birthday wishes!

    Sure, they originally were meant for GNU, but whatever...

    Posted in Blog affairs, Weird Stuff | Leave a comment

    Original Recording of Porfirio Díaz

    We have covered Porfirio Díaz before in our SoFiA category. He is a controversial figure in Mexican history, former conservative president with a ruling style considered very repressive. So repressive that it was one of the main reasons for the Mexican revolution in 1910. His time in office even has its own freakin’ name: Porfiriato. And here, have a look at the legislative palace he wanted to build:

    Needs more pillars!

    However today we want to listen to him. Fortunately for us, a certain man lived and worked at the same time. That man, called Thomas Alva Edison gave Díaz the possibility to immortalize himself on a gold moulded cylinder.

    The recording is remarkably clear, the Spanish is transcibed. Still many readers won’t be able to understand what Díaz says. Therefore behold, the English translation:

    Narrator: Response from General Porfirio Diaz, President of the Mexican Republic, to a letter from Tomas A. Edison.

    Diaz: Chapultepec, August 15, 1909. Mr. Thomas A Edison (valued and good friend).
    I refer to your nice letter from July 8. I too like you remember with pleasure the time I had the chance of meeting and knowing your adventurous experiments, making me share in your unbreakable faith in the gracious future of empirical science.

    It was back in your homeland, in the early days of electric light in New York. And since then I saw in you the talented heroe, a hard working winner, the one that later would discipline fire torn from the sky by Franklin, to eternalize the charming voice of loved ones here on earth in your wonderful phonographic equipment, reproducing every rythm, every accent and every modulation of the human language.

    I am grateful to please you because I have very high regard for the great benefactors of humanity, and you are one of them, because you have created new sources of happiness, well-being and wealth for the human race, using the most powerful forces known: light, electricity, lavor and genius.

    Your friend, who shakes your hand with pride,
    Porfirio Díaz.

    We can consider ourselves lucky to be able to listen to his voice (and other voices on other recordings) even after such a long time. And indeed we now see which astounding technology was developed after disciplining the fire from the sky. We can listen to a digital recording on a worldwide communication network in which you have found this site, because you were interested (or by pure chance). *sigh* It’s a beautiful world and that should motivate us to solve some more problems.

    Posted in History, Mexico | Leave a comment

    The Crystal Skulls

    **Update: A reader correctly mentioned in the comments, that there are also not-so-phony Crystal Skulls around. The original version of the article focussed on the popcultural understanding of different qualities of the Crystal Skulls and therefore omitted several pieces of information, which could help to get a complete picture. I updated this article and added another section, where I present some more information.

    A blog about Mesoamerica has to cover certain topics, just because they are so famous, yet often misrepresented across the internet. One of the topics is definitely El Chupacabras, the infamous crypto-animal which seems to turn into quite normal animals upon being shot. TCMAM wants to throw in voices of reasonable thinking in order to keep the steps of wishful thinking at a minimum. Another topic which has to be looked at seriously is the Crystal Skulls of the Maya. A lot of websites already dealt with this topic. Latest when Indiana Jones and the Kindom of the Crystal Skull came out, the general population got aware of the existance of crystal skulls (in Peru, though). Still, there is so much contradicting information about what they are, where they came from and what you can do with them, that we want to order this information a bit today.

    The Crystal Skull from the Indiana Jones Movie
    picture: ombrelle/

    What is a Crystal Skull and how do they look?

    A Crystal Skull is a skull made from crystal. (duh…) The used material is milky quartz rock, also known as rock crystal. They don’t really look like the one above, used in the movie. The skull above tries to show some kind of alien skull resemblance, while the actual Crystal Skulls clearly display a human skull:

    That's one happy skull there
    picture: Y-Not ?/

    Looks happy, right? But careful! Allegedly they have mystical powers and were used by pre-columbian civilisations in Mesoamerica and/or Southamerica to perform magical rituals. Also today, the skulls seems to have some power: Witnesses report an aura around the skull, the sound of ringing bells, audible, when you’re near it – it can even be used to kill someone. And of course – with 2012 approaching – many authors use the crystal skulls to tie them to the approaching Doomsday. Depending on whom you listen to, the skulls are either vessels for the souls of wise (and dead) Maya elders, that await the time, when they are needed again, or linked to Atlantis or the Mars in some way. Could that be or is there a simpler (and true) explanation?

    Where do they come from?

    The first example of a Crystal Skull was emerged in Europe. Anna Mitchell-Hedges, the daughter of archeologist Mike Mitchell-Hedges, said that she found it 1924 during diggings in Lubaantun, an old Maya site in today’s Belize. This skull earned quite some fame as the “Skull of Doom” and has been used by spiritists to receive visions. Mike Mitchell-Hedges wrote a biography. In the chapter about the skull – the rumours about the skull were all over the media at that time – he got very brief; only noted that he has reasons to not describe where it came from. He wrote however, that highpriests of the Maya used it in death rituals and “It is said that when he willed death with the help of the skull, death invariably followed.”

    Now this biography was written 1954, almost 30 years after his daughter allegedly found it in Lubaantun. The first mention of the skull however was in 1936, in an anthropologic magazine. There it is described as being in the possession of an arts dealer by the name of Sydney Burney, with no connection to Mitchell-Hedges. This makes Mitchell-Hedges’ declaration at least doubtable.

    So, did the Maya use crystal skulls?

    There is no mention of any crystal skulls in the Aztec or Mayan sources. Never in a documented excavation have crystal skulls been found (see updated chapter). What you can find are depictions of skulls or manufactured jade masks, however.

    Death mask of Pakal

    It is not very likely that these crystal skulls were used in pre-columbian Mesoamerica, also because they don’t fit to any style of art of that time. They are much too naturalistic.

    But where could they come from then?

    It’s entirely possible to find clues to answer this question. One way to go is having a look at the material. And that’s exactly what happened in 1995, when the British Museum had a look at the Crystal Skull, it possesses. The material unfortunately is not fit for the established dating methods, such as thermoluminescence or carbon dating. But there is another way to find out, when it was made: examining the manufacturing technique and looking for marks that only specia modern machines would leave.

    Mitchell-Hedges described in his biography, that for generations the Maya used sand to work a crystal block, resulting in the form of a skull. That sounds romantic, but it’s entirely impossible. With this method, the skull’s surface would be littered with stress marks. Instead the researcher used electron microscopy and found details that showed, that the skull was worked by corundrum or diamond on a rotating disc of some metal, probably steel. That was an important finding.

    With the knowledge about the technique used, they could tell that the skull was made in the last 200 years.

    And what does that mean?

    That means – along with some more evidence – that the skulls are a forgery from the 19th century. Some skulls even have been dated to the 1950s or later. It’s also very probable that they originated from either Paris, the main city for grinding of the time, or from a little town in Germany, Idar-Oberstein. In 1870 a small company started to process huge amounts of quartz from Brazil. And also today the company still exists and it possesses templates for carving skulls, identical to the Lubaantun skull.

    Forgery expressing a bad poker face

    **Update: But, what about the smaller Aztec skulls?

    Ah, you got me… Indeed, there are different styles of skulls in different sizes. And some of the smaller ones might even be genuine. Archaeologist Michael E. Smith makes a good case in referring to small crystal skulls, which didn’t come from documented excavations. And just because they were not documented and other crystal skulls were successfully recognized as forgery, it doesn’t make all of them a forgery necessarily.

    Aztecs have worked with crystal and made little ritual objects. As we read before, Aztecs – and Maya – also used the skull element in drawings, decorations and depictions of gods (as you can see on the picture below). It can therefore be possible, that they also produced small crystal skulls at some point.

    Aztec goddess Mictecacihuatl

    These skulls would be Aztec then, however. A finding of “phony-looking crystal skulls the size of footballs” (as Smith says it) in a Maya site in Belize is therefore very unlikely – both temporally and regionally – to be connected, especially if the style of the skull is not really fitting the Maya style.

    This aspect can teach us, that we may no simplify too strongly in an historic context. it shows that it’s also not correct to induce from “many proven forged crystal skulls” to “all forged crystal skulls of all styles”. And it can also teach us, how truth and legend and forgery can be mixed, until only legend and forgery survive and are recognized as truth.


    The big, phony, infamous Crystal Skulls are certainly not of Maya or Mesoamerican origin, but forgeries, made in Europe, probably in the 19th century. All mystic descriptions surely came from the vague (and false) information, which Mitchell-Hedges distributed. There is no documented case of any paranormal activity around the skull, aside from anecdotes. Modern authors however used all this misinformation an connected the Crystal Skull to other New Age belief, like the 2012 doomsday (which will not happen). Some authors even interpret (or create) Native American lore, to make it look plausible…

    **Update: There are however several crystal skulls from non-documented sources, which could be of genuine Aztec origin. So far, there is no clarity in this point, as all information about excavated crystal skulls is hearsay.

    Some might be disappointed by the truth, but the fact, that we have the means to find out such things is astonishing. We already know a lot about the pre-columbian cultures and there is much more to learn. Reality and real archaeology and history are so much more interesting and fascinating than modern age fairy tales.

    Posted in 2012 Countdown, Archaeology, Maya, Misconception | Tagged , , | 13 Comments