The carved stone Maya stela unveiled in Belize at The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s 2012 Winter Solstice ceremonies on December 22 2012 is a continuation of thousands of years of Maya history, according to the Chaa Creek Natural History Centre.
As anthropologist Joe Awe explained to the guests who attended the unveiling ceremony held at Chaa Creek, the ancient Maya used the carved stone monuments to record important dates and events in their various city-states spread across the vast Maya empire, which covered all of Belize and parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“It is very fortunate for us that the Maya used the stelae to carve important information into stone for future generations to see. Otherwise, since the Spanish Conquistadors destroyed the Maya’s huge libraries, artwork and books, we’d have hardly any information at all to piece together their rich history,” he said.
“Now, with this new stela, we’ve recorded our own presence during the Winter Solstice of 2012, and it will be interesting to see who reads this thousands of years down the track,” he added.
The Maya were one of the earliest people to develop a written language, and they used glyphs, similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs, carved into limestone slabs to commemorate important dates, activities of rulers and sometimes predictions of future events.
Mr. Awe said that the erroneous predictions that the world would end on December 21, 2012, come from that date’s inscription on the now famous “Tortuguero” stela, which was found in Tortuguero, Mexico, and bears the inscription of December 21, 2012, written as 184.108.40.206.0 in the Maya Long Count. The stela also makes mention of the deity Bolon Yokte’ regarded by archaeologists as a god of change, of destruction, and of cosmic period-endings – hence the erroneous assumption that the Winter Solstice of 2012 was predicted as the end of the world.
Dr. Mark van Stone, a highly respected Mayanist and author has for years argued that as so little is known of Bolon Yokte’ , and as the Tortuguero stela is so damaged as to be unreadable with any certainty, it is nonsensical to draw any conclusions as to its meaning.
Mr. Awe agreed, and said care has been taken to ensure that the Chaa Creek stela, which took Maya carvers such as Arcenio itza nine months to carve and has been carefully scrutinized to ensure that the glyphs are accurate, will leave a faithful record of events for future generations.
”The spot we are standing on has been a hub of Maya activities thousands of years ago, just as it is today. And just as we have been pondering over stelae left by the ancient Maya, there’s every chance that people thousands of years from now will be reading this Chaa Creek stela and wondering what our lives were like, and what message we are leaving them.
“Wouldn’t it be hilarious if someone thought we were predicting the end of the world in their time? Maybe there will be future films like the Hollywood movie ‘2012’ based on the mysterious Chaa Creek stela,” Mr. Awe joked.
Cultural Anthropologist Joe Awe describes the 2012 stela.
Chaa Creek owners Lucy and Mick Fleming, who commissioned the work, were on hand with a large group of guests, staff and villagers for the unveiling, and Ms Fleming said she was proud to be able to take part in a millennia long Maya tradition.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate such an important event than to record it exactly as the ancient Maya would have, and in a language they would have understood thousands of years ago just as they do today. Hopefully, knowing what a resilient race of people the Maya are, they will be able to read and understand the Chaa Creek stela thousands of years from now,” Ms Fleming said.