Contributed Papers

The God's Grand Costume Ball: a Classic Maya prophecy for the close of the thirteenth Bakˈtun

Barbara MacLeoda1

a1 Independent Scholar, Austin, Texas, USA email:


In the favored correlation between the Mayan and Gregorian calendars, a time period of a little over 5125 solar years will be completed on the winter solstice of 2012. While numerous Classic Maya hieroglyphic texts feature the previous closing of this era in 3114 BCE, only one text—Monument Six of Tortuguero, Tabasco, Mexico—mentions the future event. The portion of the monument describing the event is damaged, and previous attempts to decipher this part of the text have been inconclusive. These have inadvertently led to popular and far-flung millenniarian speculations about ancient esoteric knowledge. The whole of Tortuguero Monument Six—an exquisite piece of Classic sculpture and literature—addresses the fundamental relationship between royal charter, warfare, captive sacrifice, appeasement of the gods, the ordering of time, and the stability of society for posterity. The author and her colleagues—employing high-resolution photos and great attention to script detail—have brought to light a more accurate interpretation of the damaged text. The results of this effort suggest a distant future ceremony of investiture for a deity of deep-time transitions whose reflexes can be seen in indigenous community celebrations of highland Guatemala.

(Online publication July 26 2011)


  • Maya Long Count;
  • thirteenth Pik;
  • 2012;
  • Tortuguero Monument Six;
  • Bolon Yokteˈ;
  • Rilaj Mam