The so-called Mayan Apocalypse didn’t occur, but an ancient temple nearly met its end.
Tourists in Guatemala for “end of the world” parties last week have damaged an ancient stone pyramid at Tikal, noted as the largest archeological site of the ancient Mayan civilization.
“Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damaged,” said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site to local media, to The New York Daily News. “We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”
While Gomez did not provide specific details on the damage, he indicated it is irreparable. There is a reason, he said, why climbing the stairs is forbidden at the site. The now ruined Temple II is described as one of the site’s best known structures and located about 340 miles north of Guatemala City.
According to the newspaper, more than 7,000 people visited Tikal on Friday to witness Mayan priests hold a ceremony to welcome a new era. Despite the tourist boom, critics complained the event had little to do with Mayans.
Nearly 43 percent of Guatemala’s 14.3 million residents are recognized as native Mayans. Most live in poverty and endure discrimination.
The end of the year frenzy started when some interpreted that the Mayan Long Count Calendar predicted that Dec. 21, 2012 would be the last day of the world as we know it. Others took it to mean that the date marked the end of an era that lasted over 5,000 years.
A third group long concluded the much-feared “Doomsday” was a hoax based on a misunderstanding concerning actual artifacts previously found.
“The majority of the doomsayers cite a monument from Tortugero, Mexico that mentions the 2012 date, but the main glyph that would tell us what they thought about the date is broken off,” said Sonja Schwake, an anthropological archaeologist, to Fox News Latino about the highly talked-about date.
“We actually have no evidence that the ancient Maya predicted or wrote down any kind of apocalyptic world-ending event associated with the 2012 date.”