Jose Luis Romero has been quite busy lately, attempting to explain to journalists why the world will be just fine after December 21, 2012.
We met with the veteran archaeologist in a brand new museum in the city of Villahermosa, where he kindly translated the hieroglyphics carved on Monument Six of Tortuguero, a Mayan stone from the 7th century AD.
Gazing at a series of three hieroglyphics that depicted two stars, the tip of a lance, and a jaguar head with three dots on top of it, Romero explained that the massive stone in front of him talked mainly about the wars undertaken by lord Bahlam Ahaw during the late 7th century. Bahlam Ahaw ruled the ancient city of tortuguero from 644 AD to 679. Archeologists believe that Monument Six was a plaque of sorts built in 1667 to inaugurate a new building that was also made in the ruler´s honor.
"There is nothing here that talks about the end of the mayan calendar. Nothing here says the world will end," Romero said with a modest smile.
The above section of Monument Six describes how Ahaw waged war against a neighboring kingdom. The third glyph to the right on the top row, depicts a spearhead and a shield.
Yet Monument Six has become known around the world as the stone that predicts the coming of a new era, or the "end of the world."
Most of this speculation arises from the last six hieroglyphics on the T shaped stone. These glyphs, placed on the top right hand corner of the T, count the number of days to go until the end of Baktun 13, a 400-year-long period of the Mayan calendar, which finishes roughly on December 21, 2012.
This is the segment of Monument Six that talks about Baktun 13 and the god Bolon Yokte. Part of it was broken off and is now held by a private collector in Boston.
The glyphs also say that when the 13th Baktun ends, Mayan deity Bolon Yokte, will descend on earth, or will be "invested" in a great ceremony in a place that is not specified, as one of the glyphs is eroded, and is unrecognizable.
But what does that have to do with the end of the world?
New age theorist Geoff Stray points out that Bolon Yokte is a god associated with the underworld, conflict and war, social unrest and even natural disasters like earthquakes.
"He appears at the end of baktuns, assisted at the creation of the current world, and will be present at the next creation in 2012," Stray writes in an article that has been shared on several new age websites.
But several archaeologists that are familiar with Monument Six claim that Maya scribes who carved this stone only bothered to include Baktun 13 and Bolon Yokte in there for political purposes, and not because they were making any prophecies.
These experts suggest that mentions of Baktun 13 and the god linked to this date on Monument Six are really just rhetorical devices aimed at bolstering the status of Tortuguero leader Bahlam Ajaw.
A sign in the Villahermosa archaeological museum interprets the section of Monument Six that talks about Baktun 13
During a workshop on the tortuguero monument, organized by the Mexican government in December, German archaeologist Sven Gronemeyer explained that for the Mayas, Baktun 13th marked an important milestone in the creation of the world, kind of like how westerners view New Year´s eve as an important date to make plans, and think about their lives.