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2012 Mayan Artifacts

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ICE returns artifacts to Guatemala

John Morton, ICE Director: Today, I'm returning two beautiful ceramic pottery vessels to the people of Guatemala. You can see them over on the far right there. Pieces of pottery that are well over a thousand years old. They were illegally smuggled from Guatemala to the United States. In early 2011, the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture discovered the pottery for sale on the Internet by an auction house in Boston.

They notified our office in Guatemala. And they, in turn, passed on the information to our office of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston. We started an investigation, and we contacted the auction house. They gave us all the existing documentation, access to the pottery. We went to Charles Golden of the Anthropology Department at Brandeis. He determined that the pottery was from the preHispanic Maya civilization in Petén. Thanks to some good work by our folks and help from others,

we were able to seize and forfeit both items for their return today. It's a good week for Guatemalan and U.S. relationships. applause .

Mayan Prophecies widescreen

After steamrolling over Jamaica, Hurricane Gilbert churnedwestward toward Yucatan, homeland of the Maya. On September 14, 1988, this force 5 monster crashed ashore with a storm surge over two stories high, leaving widespread flooding, 200 dead, and more than 60,000 homesdestroyed in its wake.

Maya astronomers fearedthese great killing storms and could read their time in the stars. One of the surviving Maya books, the Dresden Codex, may predict the end of time in agreat flood from a hurricane's wrath. On the last page, a cosmic monstergushes water from its mouth and from sky glyphs on its body. Is a hurricane the disaster Mayaastronomers saw in the heavens long ago,

or is their apocalypse still in our futureé To record the passage of time, the Maya developed a 260day ritual cycle, made up of thirteen numbersand twenty names. The Maya kept a second 365 daysolar calendar of 18 months, each lasting 20 days, plus 5 extra days to complete the year. This calendar determined the growing season

and the annual return of the rains. The Maya combined these two cycles to create a calendar round,lasting 52 solar years. Using these calendars, the Mayarecorded dates in books and on markers and buildings such asthe Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque. Spanning three tablets, this is the largest classic Maya inscription. These glyphs indicate specific dates

and cover hundreds of years, using another calendar called the Long Count. The Long Count records time periods in baktuns,katuns, tuns, winals, and kins. A kin is a day, a winal is 20 days, a tun is almost a year,a katun is just under 20 years, and a baktun is just over '4 years. The left and center tablets chronicle events in the city ofPalenque in the 9th baktun,

a time period from 435 to 830in our modern calendar. The right tablet also commemoratesthe life of King Pacal and lists dates beginning in the past and extending thousands of yearsinto the future. Like our centuries and millennia, the Maya celebrated the beginningsof new katuns and baktuns. All Maya kept the same ritual,solar and long count calendars, using them to describethe past and foretell the future.

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