They’ve done their best in the past to downplay theories that the ancient Mayas predicted some sort of apocalypse would occur in 2012.
But archaelogists at Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History have admitted that a second reference to the date exists on a carved fragment.
Most experts had cited only one surviving reference to the date in Mayan glyphs, a stone tablet from the Tortuguero site in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
The second is an apparent reference at the nearby Comalcalco ruin on the carved or moulded face of a brick. Comalcalco is unusual among Mayan temples in that it was built with bricks.
Arturo Mendez, a spokesman for the institute, said the fragment of inscription had been discovered years ago and has been subject to thorough study. It is not on display and is being kept in storage at the institute.
The ‘Comalcalco Brick’, as the second fragment is known, has been discussed by experts in some online forums.
Many still doubt that it is a definite reference to December 21, 2012 or December 23, 2012, the dates cited by proponents of the theory as the possible end of the world.
‘Some have proposed it as another reference to 2012, but I remain rather unconvinced,’ said David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin.
He said the date inscribed on the brick ‘is a ‘Calendar Round’, a combination of a day and month position that will repeat every 52 years’.
The brick date does coincide with the end of the 13th Baktun.
Baktuns were roughly 394-year periods and 13 was a significant, sacred number for the Mayas. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3114 BC, and the 13th Baktun ends around December 21, 2012.
But the date on the brick could also correspond to similar dates in the past, Mr Stuart said.