Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 21, 2012

Mexico's Maya heartland greets dawn of new era

(Continued)

But it was unclear how long the love would last: A security guard quickly came over and asked him to stop blowing his conch shell, enforcing the ruin site's ban on holding ceremonies without previous permits.

What nobody was calling the moment was the end of the world, as some people in recent years have interpreted the meaning of the end of the 13th Baktun — despite the insistence of archeologists and the Maya themselves it meant no such thing.

"We'll still have to pay taxes next year," said Gabriel Romero, a Los Angeles-based spiritualist who uses crystal skulls in his ceremonies.

Similar ceremonies greeted the dawn in neighboring Guatemala, where Mayan spiritual leaders burned offerings and families danced to celebrate the new era. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla attended an official ceremony in the department of Peten, along with thousands of celebrants and artists.

If the chanting and dancing of a crystal skull ceremony held Thursday in Mexico weren't enough to end fears of an apocalypse, scientists chimed in, too.

Bill Leith, the U.S. Geological Survey's senior science adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards, said that by late Thursday, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary had been detected in seismic activities, solar flares, volcanos or the Earth's geomagnetic field.

"It's a fairly unremarkable day on planet Earth today, and in the last few days," Leith said. "There are no major eruptions going on."

There had been about 120 small earthquakes and a moderate temblor in Japan, he said. "That's very much a normal day."

Still, there were some who wouldn't truly feel safe until the sun sets Friday over the pyramids in Yucatan peninsula, the heartland of the Maya.

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