Tortuguero (Maya site)

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Monument 6 from Tortuguero, today in Carlos Pellicer Museum, in Villahermosa. Tabasco.
Fragment of Monument 6 from Tortuguero, today in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Tortuguero (or El Tortuguero) is an archaeological site in southernmost Tabasco, Mexico which supported a Maya city during the Classic period. The site is noteworthy for its use of the B'aakal emblem glyph also found as the primary title at Palenque.[1] The site has been heavily damaged by looting and modern development;[2] in the 1960s, a cement factory was built directly on top of the site.


Little is known about the dynastic lineage of this site, aside from Bahlam Ajaw, who ruled from 644-679 CE. In 649 CE he conquered Comalcalco, one of the westernmost sites in the Maya world.[1]

Monument 6: End of the Thirteenth Baktun[edit]

Monument 6 from Tortuguero has recently generated discussion as it includes the only known inscription depicting the end of the current 13-Bak'tun era in 2012.[3][4] Grube, Martin and Zender have stated[5] it refers to “the end of the 13th b’ahktun which we will see in the year 2012” and as to what will happen, they say, “...utom, 'it will happen' (O4) followed by something that we cannot read (P4) and he 'will descend' yem (O5). The last glyph begins with ta followed by something. However, this is not the end of the world.”

This happy interpretation is supported by Markus Eberl and Christian Prager. They identify the fragmentary word translated above as "descent" seems to be the same one used during building dedications. They also point to a panel on Temple XIV at Palenque, which shows that a positive event took place on July 29, 931,449 BCE involving a vision serpent named Sak Baak Na' Chapat and his deity K'awiil, which was overseen by B'olon Yokte' K'uh.[6]

Gillespie and Joyce[7] and also Houston and Stuart[8] have concurred that the inscription on Monument 6 concerns the god(s) Bolon Yokte’ K’uh - specifically “…a calendrical event in the early 21st century AD, at which time, apparently, the god may 'descend'.” Stuart has given a more complete translation: “"The Thirteenth Bak'tun" will be finished (on) Four Ahaw, the Third of K'ank'in. ? will occur. (It will be) the descent(?) of the Nine Support (?) God(s) to the ?."[9] All prophecy seekers may be warned that he later explained in his Blog that monument 6 is not stating a prophecy and never featured the 2012 period ending, except to refer to the future Bak’tun ending in order to temporally orient a more significant here-and-now happening of Tortuguero’s local history.[10] Gronemeyer gives an epigraphic analysis and calendrical reconstruction of Monument 6 in his Master’s thesis,[11] with illustrations. It has been indicated that 'Bolon Yokte' K'Uh' could refer to the 9 Lords of the Night who featured in both Aztec and Mayan calendars yet remained unnamed in the latter, as the Nine Lords of the Underworld were known as 'Bolon ti ku'.[12]

Most recently, Gronemeyer and MacLeod[3] have scrutinized Monument 6 again and offer a new interpretation of the passage dealing with the 13-Bak'tun ending. According to them,[13] the inscription announces the witnessing of the deity Bolon Yokte' K'uh who will be publicly displayed by the occasion of his investiture. By applying several linguistic and ethnographic parallels, this may happen by the enrobing and/or parading of an effigy of the said deity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Martin & Grube (2000), p.165
  2. ^ Zender & Guenter (2000), p.6
  3. ^ a b Gronemeyer & MacLeod (2010)
  4. ^ Schele & Freidel (1990), p. 446
  5. ^ Grube, Martin & Zender (2002), (pp. 112-113)
  6. ^ Eberl & Prager (2005) (p.32)
  7. ^ Gillespie & Joyce (1998) (p.291)
  8. ^ Houston & Stuart (1996) (p.301)
  9. ^ University of Texas Mesoamerica Center Discussion Board
  10. ^ David Stuart`s blog entry
  11. ^ Gronemeyer (2004) (pp. 136-160)
  12. ^
  13. ^ Gronemeyer & MacLeod (2010) (p. 8)


Eberl, Markus; Christian Prager (2005). "B'olon Yokte' K'uh. Maya conceptions of war, conflict, and the underworld.". In Peter Eeckhout; Geneviève Le Fort. Wars and conflicts in prehispanic Mesoamerica and the Andes : selected proceedings of the conference organized by the Société des Américanistes de Belgique with the collaboration of Wayeb (European Association of Mayanists), Brussels, 16–17 November 2002. British Archaeological Reports International Series, no. 1385. Oxford, UK: John and Erika Hedges Ltd. pp. 28–36. ISBN 1-84171-706-1. OCLC 254728446.
Gillespie, Susan. D.; Rosemary A. Joyce (1998). "Deity Relationships in Mesoamerican Cosmologies: The Case of the Maya God L". Ancient Mesoamerica. London and New York: Cambridge University Press. 9 (2): 279–296. doi:10.1017/s0956536100001991. ISSN 0956-5361. OCLC 93505861.
Gronemeyer, Sven (2004). Tortuguero, Tabasco, Mexiko: Geschichte einer klassischen Maya-Stadt, dargestellt an ihren Inschriften (in German) (Master's thesis, submitted to Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität BonnInstitut für Altamerikanistik und Ethnologie (IAK) ed.). Munich: GRIN Publishing OHG. ISBN 978-3-638-47653-9. OCLC 255322883. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
Gronemeyer, Sven (2006). The Maya site of Tortuguero, Tabasco, Mexico: its history and inscriptions (PDF). Acta Mesoamericana vol. 17. Markt Schwaben, Germany: Verlag Anton Saurwein. ISBN 3-931419-13-4. OCLC 68805001.
Gronemeyer, Sven; Barbara MacLeod (2010). "What Could Happen in 2012: A Re-Analysis of the 13-Bak'tun Prophecy on Tortuguero Monument 6" (PDF). Wayeb Notes. European Association of Mayanists. 34: 1–68. ISSN 1379-8286. OCLC 298471525.
Grube, Nikolai; Simon Martin; Martin Zender (2002). Phil Wanyerka, ed. The Proceedings of the Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop, March 9–10, 2002, University of Texas at Austin: "Palenque and its Neighbors". United States: s.n. OCLC 50900637.
Houston, Stephen; David Stuart (June 1996). "Of gods, glyphs and kings: divinity and rulership among the Classic Maya". Antiquity. Cambridge, England: Antiquity Publications. 70 (268): 289–312. ISSN 0003-598X. OCLC 206025348.
Martin, Simon; Nikolai Grube (2000). Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya. London and New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05103-8. OCLC 47358325.
Schele, Linda; David Freidel (1990). A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 0-688-11204-8.
Zender, Marc; Stanley Guenter (Spring 2000). "Three Kings of Late Classic Tortuguero" (PDF). PARI Newsletter. San Francisco, CA: Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute. 30: 6–8. ISSN 1531-5398. OCLC 44780248.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 17°41′13″N 92°34′05″W / 17.68694°N 92.56806°W / 17.68694; -92.56806