Mayan Ceremony Marks End of Calendar Cycle
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A traditional Mayan ceremony at Guatemala's Temple of the Giant Jaguar marked the end of a cycle on the ancient Mayan calendar. The calendar has sparked numerous doomsday theories, although other Mayan calendars stretch far into the future. (Dec. 21)


SHOTLIST:GUATEMALA GOVERNMENT T-V /COURTESY GUATEMALA GOV'T TV, AP CLIENTS ONLYTikal, Guatemala - December 20, 20121. M/S of Temple of the Giant Jaguar2. W/S 3 men in traditional clothing playing huge horns3. W/S 2 lines of men walking with torches on long sticks4. Wide, Temple of the Giant Jaguar5. M/S Ceremonial King carriied in6. M/S Ceremonial queen carried in, moving object in circle7. M/S Ceremonial king approaches temple8. W/S People with torches on temple steps9. W/S Dancers in front of temple10. M/S Dancers in traditional outfits, one man carrying tiger skin11. W/S Man with tiger skin circling12. M/S Woman moving arms during dance13. W/S Dancers moving slowly14. W/S Dancers on stage15. M/S Dancers on stage16. W/S Dancers17. M/S Dancers18. M/S Woman dancing19. W/S Dancers in colorful outfits20. M/S Procession of people in colorful outfits21. M/S Two men dancing with a stick22. W/S Temple of the Giant JaguarSTORYLINE: Tourists and true believers gathered at the ruins of a temple in Guatemala on Thursday to mark the end of an era in the ancient Mayans' long-count calendar. The ceremony at the ancient city of Tikal, near the border with Belize, started just after 2100 local time (0300 GMT), with man dressed like a Mayan priest blowing horn in the Temple of Giant Jaguar, the most famous of all Tikal's temples. While the end of the Mayan calendar cycle prompted a wave of doomsday speculation across the globe, few in the Mayan heartland believe the world will end. The Mayas measured time in 394-year periods known as baktuns. The 13th baktun ends around 21 December and 13 is considered a sacred number for the Maya. But archaeologists have uncovered Mayan glyphs that refer to dates far, far in the future, long beyond 21 December. Tikal, which formed the backdrop for one of the Star Wars movies, was a bustling city of perhaps 80-thousand souls during the peak of Mayan civilisation from about 300 to 900 A.D. Today, it is a perfectly maintained attraction for tourists drawn by white limestone temples, palaces, residential areas and carved stones At the centre of a six-square-mile mapped area dotted with more than 3,000 structures is the Great Plaza, with the often-pictured Temple I, or Temple of the Giant Jaguar, at one end. Mayans first inhabited the rolling jungle area at Tikal more than 2,630 years ago. As they expanded and remodelled, building new temples atop old, it grew into the main city of a civilisation that stretched from the northern Yucatan Peninsula to what is now western Honduras. For unknown reasons, the lavish life at Tikal came to an end about 900 A.D., although people continued to live there.(****END****)