Posted by: Johan Normark | December 21, 2010

2012: The local context of the 13 Baktun date at Tortuguero

Almost three months ago I posted the first part of Sven Gronemeyer and Barbara MacLeod’s recent analysis of Monument 6 at Tortuguero. As promised a couple of times before here is the second part that deals with the actual content of the inscription.

In their article they discuss the right-panel passage. From the date 9, Etz’nab 6 K’ayab (January 1, 669 [GMT]) mentioned in the main text there is a distance number ( that leads up to 13 Baktun. The earlier event is that of a house dedication when fire was brought into the building. This date is related to a 160 years earlier dedication event of a temple sanctuary of an earlier ruler of Tortuguero (, 8 Chuwen 9 Mak). After the distance number above follows the period ending statement for the 13 Baktun date. This is their interpretation of the passage:

It will be completed the thirteenth Baktun (tzu-jo-ma u-13-PIK)

It is 4 Ajaw 3 K’ank’in (4-Ajaw 3-UN-wi)

and it will happen a ‘seeing’ (u-to-ma i-li)

It is the display of B’olon-Yokte’ (ye-ni-9-OK-TE’)

in a great ‘investiture’ (ta-CHAK-jo-JOY[ja])

The crucial part of the inscription is the last two glyphic blocks. Gronemeyer and MacLeod write that “it has long been thought (less so by the original proponents than by subsequent interpreters and especially those in the ‘2012 movement’) that the left half of the block includes the verbal root ehm, meaning ‘descend’” (p 15). Earlier interpretations suggested that the left part included the ye-ma (read as y-ema(l)) and was translated as “his descent(?)” by Houston and Stuart. MacLeod has, however, suggested that the reading should be ye-ni (read as ye’ni/ye:n) and has been translated as “adornments”. Bolon Yoke’ K’uh is a god and will be discussed in another blog post. It was earlier believed that the final block indicated the location where the god descends since it includes the preposition ta. Since Gronemeyer and MacLeod now believes ye-ni indicates adornment or display they read ta as “in, for, with”.

Before I discuss the investiture of Bolon Yokte’ K’uh in another blog post I shall summarize the conclusions that Gronemeyer and MacLeod make regarding the narrative of Monument 6. Since “the narrative is centered on the building, the gods, the lineage and associated relationships, the purpose of the count forward to the 13th Bak’tun ending seems clear: the lineage of Bahlam Ajaw and its patron deities is to orchestrate the future welcoming of Bolon Yokte’ K’uh – perhaps with this very building serving as the stage for the event. If the celebration is not to be supervised by the king himself (but it may be, posthumously), then his heirs will do it; thus the event is not so impersonal as previously assumed” (p 23).

Hence it is important to emphasize the local context of this monument since it was not alone. Monument 1 at Tortuguero records the period ending, 1 Ajaw 3 K’ank’in. This monument is ‘the first in order’ (u-nah-tal) of the k’al-tu:n ceremonies of Bahlam Ajaw’s companion gods. The authors believe that this monument may have been the first erection of a stela associated with a period ending during Bahlam Ajaw’s reign. Monument 6 may therefore be the end point of a bundling of time. The Calendar Round of the 13-Tun ending on Monument 1 (1 Ajaw 3 K’ank’in) is similar to the one for the 13-Baktun ending (4 Ajaw 3 K’ank’in). Bahlam Ajaw may have wanted to connect these two events.

The event that features Bolon Yokte’ K’uh will be described in the final post in this temporally extended series.


  1. […] Now as it stands here it could very well be part of the mad rantings from the Necronmicon, so it might very well be a danger to your mind if you continue to study it  – Johan has and he explains the inscription here. […]


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