Sunday, December 30th, 2012
The crowds of tourists who flocked to Tikal in Guatemala to embrace the end of the world as not-really predicted by the Maya on December 21st, 2012, were as careless as they were ignorant. Tikal is the largest extant Mayan urban center and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temples are too fragile to support climbers so they’re for looking only. I suppose when you’re expecting the world to end just because the 13th Bak’tun cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar is coming to a close, you can’t be bothered to give a crap about preserving irreplaceable archaeological remains.
Ethnic Mayan priests held ceremonies celebrating the end of the cycle and the dawn of a new era at archaeological sites all over Central America. Tikal’s ceremony was attended by 7,000 tourists some of whom thought it would be a nifty idea to climb the stairs of Temple II, also known as the Temple of the Masks. According to Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at Tikal, tourists attending the ceremony climbed Temple II causing irreparable damage. He did not provide specifics on the nature of the damage.
Tikal Temple II was built in honor of his wife Lady Kalajuun Une’ Mo’ by King Jasaw Chan K’awiil I who ruled Tikal and environs from 682 to 734 A.D. in the Late Classic period of Maya civilization. Jasaw Chan K’awiil I was a powerful king who revived the flagging fortunes of Tikal and conquered its main rival polity of Calakmul which you might recall as the hometown of the Lady Snake Lord. In 695, Jasaw Chan K’awiil I Calakmul so soundly that it never built another victory monument. He captured King Yuhknoom Yich’aak K’ahk’, who had been on the throne less than ten years since the demise of King Yuhknoom Ch’een the Great, Lady Snake Lord’s father.