Until I can edit this document, it should be read in reverse for chronological continuity.


January 19, 2009

Dear Anthony Aveni,


After communicating with many scholars over the years on the 2012 question, including John B. Carlson, Ed Krupp, David Stuart, Mark Van Stone, Dennis Tedlock, Susan Milbrath, Linda Schele, John Hoopes, Stephen Houston, Timothy Laughton, Vincent Malmstrom, Barbara Tedlock, David Kelley, Barbara MacLeod, Munro Edmonson, Robert Sitler, and you, I’ve developed a strategy of approach to the 2012 topic, which should be considered a useful guideline for any pro-active critique.


I won't be attending your Tulane talk in February, but I hope you can orient your comments to these essential points. Also, it would be important to discuss the recent findings of MacLeod and Grofe on the accuracy of precessional calculations, as I believe you took issue with that point. And my comments in the IMS newsletter I previously sent to you, responding to your point on the “galactic equator” being an unrecognizable concept among the ancient Maya naked-eye sky-watchers, should also be taken into consideration if that critique is once again brought up.


Six Points Essential to A Critique of 2012  


A rational approach to 2012 must address several inter-related topics. In a nutshell, these are:


1) the calendar correlation


2) the likelihood of intent suggested by the solstice placement of the 13-baktun cycle ending date in 2012


3) the place and time of the Long Count’s origins


4) the relevance of Izapa to the Long Count’s origins


5) the galactic alignment theory with respect to the significance of the archeo-astronomical symbolism in the Izapan ballcourt


6) the question of ancient knowledge of the precession of the equinoxes and its accurate calculation.


For critics to spend all their time responding to the much overblown media hype that falls under the erroneous assumption that “the Maya predicted the world will end in 2012” is by now just passé, a boring cliché. We should be addressing our questions to 2012 as an intentional artifact of the ancient calendar, and explore how this date and ideologies possibly connected with it manifested in Maya cosmology.


I assume that the relevance of the six points listed above can be agreed upon, even if only by way of dismissal. For example, if one believes any of those points are irrelevant, one should explain why. I’ll be happy to send, upon request, my own elaboration on the relevance of the six points listed above.    


Best wishes,


John Major Jenkins






-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Aveni [mailto:aaveni@mail.colgate.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2008 9:20 AM
To: John Major Jenkins
Subject: Re: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


I have the Guernsey/Looper stuff. Send the MacLeod. I remain v. wary of these random constellation idents. Never heard of v. Akkeren but will check out. And please cease referring to your own work as "pioneering". I find it extremely offputting.



On 4/30/08 11:14 AM, "John Major Jenkins" <kahib@ix.netcom.com> wrote:


I'm happy to oblige. Rudd van Akkeren's book The Place of the Lord's Daughter was published by Leiden University:



The argument of interest relates to his investigation of the astronomy in the Popol Vuh, countering and correcting Schele and Tedlock on certain iconographic points.  The symbolism of the Creator couple, in certain contexts, relates to the stinger of Scorpio as a phallic male and the "Quadrapartite Portal" - the dark rift in the Milky Way - as the female birth cleft. In lieu of having his book at hand (hard to get, I sent to Europe for it), check out Ruud's brief discussion on this elist:


http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9811b=aztlan=1=470=P <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9811b&L=aztlan&D=1&P=470&F=P><http://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9811b&L=aztlan&D=1&P=470&F=P>


Also, the basic outline of his argument is found in Copan Notes, #73 (a PDF essay):




van Akkeren's work reinforces a key to my work on the iconography at Izapa - that the dark rift could be/was/is conceived as a birth cleft/creation place. The sun's movement around the ecliptic, coming periodically into relationship with the dark rift, takes on the connotation of a fertilizing event, and is thus conceptually connected to Creation events. Of course, these concepts start to evoke my end-date alignment thesis, so best to end the rational deductions and interdisciplinary integration of relevant sets of additional evidence here.


Barbara MacLeod presented her thesis of a precessional interval in the hieroglyphic chronologies, tied to kingship rites, at the UT conference on March 1 of this year. I can send the PDF file of it when I get home. It was based on glyph translations by Matthew Looper. Also, Looper and Guernsey-Kappleman published an essay on the astronomical symbolism at Izapa, relating to a sun-Big Dipper dialectic on Stela 25:


Looper, Matthew G. and Julia Guernsey Kappelman. 2000. "The Cosmic Umbilicus in Mesoamerica: A Floral Metaphor for the Source of Life." In Journal of Latin American Lore 21 (1): 37-42.


Their thesis echoes my own earlier observations regarding the archaeoastronomy and iconography at Izapa.





-----Original Message-----

>From: Tony Aveni <aaveni@mail.colgate.edu>

>Sent: Apr 30, 2008 5:03 AM

>To: John Major Jenkins <kahib@ix.netcom.com>

>Subject: Re: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>Send me the papers of all the au's you have been citing in these e-mails. .I've never heard of half of them. Where the hell are they published?



>On 4/29/08 3:36 PM, "John Major Jenkins" <kahib@ix.netcom.com> wrote:


>Such as? It's hard to respond to such a mercurial assertion. The Popol Vuh expresses a World Age doctrine, does it not? This is the critical characteristic of the Popol Vuh for my observation that it is therefore connected to the 13-Baktun cycle of the Long Count (a calendrical "World Age") - which period is attested as being significant by the various "Creation" monuments at Coba, Copan, Tortuguero, Palenque, and elsewhere. This conceptual connection is an example of a rational deduction that has been overlooked. Have you read Ruud Van Akkeren's Place of the Lord's Daughter? I will respect your busy schedule; thank you for your time. Too bad we couldn't get into my pioneering work on the Izapan ballcourt's alignment to the solstice sunrise azimuth, and the implications. I photographed two newly uncovered monuments at and near the site last August.





>-----Original Message-----

>>From: Tony Aveni <aaveni@mail.colgate.edu>

>>Sent: Apr 29, 2008 12:49 PM

>>To: John Major Jenkins <kahib@ix.netcom.com>

>>Subject: Re: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>>---and I am not about to try to unconvince you. I have too many other things to do. Send all papers etc. that you think relevant, whether by you or others. As always I remain an avid reader.

>>PS- You have much to learn about the nature of codices - and the Popol Vuh.



>>On 4/29/08 2:30 AM, "John Major Jenkins" <kahib@ix.netcom.com> wrote:


>>You are no doubt right that we will not agree; my position is that there is too much evidence connecting the 13-baktun cycle monuments, the solstice-galaxy alignment, orientations at Izapa, and Maya iconography to be dismissed. Nine years ago: http://www.alignment2012.com/openletter.htm


>>I'm not convinced you have assessed all of the relevant information. What of the Izapan ballcourt's alignment to the December solstice sunrise? Could that help us understand the solar symbolism on the throne on the west end of the ballcourt - i.e., which sun is being born? That's archaeoastronomy serving iconographic interpretation. I've never seen a cogent refutation of the arguments and evidence connecting certain tree and crocs with the Milky Way, so I can only simply note your opinion. Likewise with Izapa Stela 25 (what of David Stuart's material on this that I mentioned?) Meeus is relevant for providing the only published calculation of the solstice-galaxy alignment; that provides a framework for discussion. Codices are late-Classic if not post-Classic - a millennium after the LC was inaugurated. How accurately would they reflect or preserve the fundational idea behind the LC? Perhaps very little. How much does 12th century Christianity reflect the doctrines of the 1st century AD?


>>We should instead look to the culture flourishing at the time of the LC's beginnings - Izapa. There is a lot there that needs to enter the discussion - evidence not at all related to Malmstrom's or Norman's work, which as I mentioned neglected the ballcourt. (You haven't commented on the ballcourt solstice alignment observation that I documented. And precession - what about MacLeod's recent work?) Having said that, there is in fact a document, probably derived from a hieroglyphic codex, that does preserve information about World Ages and the astronomical features involved in the solstice-galaxy alignment in era-2012. It's name? The Popol Vuh. (The dark rift and the crossroads are keys to the solstice-galaxy alignment, and they are in the Popol Vuh according to D. Tedlock. You may disagree; if there is a published or unpublished refutation please direct me to it.) Where do we find the first appearance of Hero Twin / Popol Vuh episodes and characters? Izapa.


>>Rather than being stuck on proving an idea, I think I'm just waiting for a fair hearing and compelling counterarguments. After many years of dialogue with scholars I have yet to receive cogent and convincing refutations of the specific aguments that I've published, arguments that I often recapitulate in full during exchanges, and which are supported by evidence. Believe me, if this ever happened I'd gladly abandon the thesis. Instead, all I've heard is wan dismissals, opinionated disagreements, or mistaken assumptions regarding my work. I bring evidence, clear elucidation of argument with documentation; I receive generalized comments like "I don't buy it." Those kinds of responses aren't helpful, to me or for adpating the thesis, and they are what I've received from peer review journals.


>>In sum, any comments on my Izapan ballcourt solstice alignment observation? Any thoughts on Barbara MacLeod's recent paper on precession? Hatch's work at La Venta and Takalik Abaj? Best wishes,


>>John Major Jenkins





>>-----Original Message-----

>>>From: Tony Aveni <aaveni@mail.colgate.edu>

>>>Sent: Apr 28, 2008 8:22 AM

>>>To: John Major Jenkins <kahib@ix.netcom.com>

>>>Subject: Re: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>>>J--Don't mix me up with the folks in paragraph 3. I know what I am looking at and how well I can project dates based on observation. Try looking at the Milky Way yourself and tell me you can come even within a thousand years of finding a correlation between DSS & the so- called plane of the MWG. Or even that there is a definable naked eye plane to same.  The galactic center was not known in the West until the Enlightenment. We project our voiew of the universe on the Other. Forget Meeus' tabulations . They tell us nothing. And I am well aware of arguments about misplaced concretism. See my rebuttals to Schaefer in the last Oxford pub. (You need to expand your reading list.) I am also well aware of the literature about Milky Way trees & I do not accept that hypothesis, nor do I agree w/ your interp. of the iconography of St. 25.  The Izapa alignments are highly selective.  In fact I am weary of hearing about Izapa. Malmstrom is incorrect as there is no data to support his arguments. Ditto Norman. Nor is there an inkling of any 2012 cosmic connection in the codices, which is precisely where I'd expect to find it. I  think you should be aware of the tenuousness of many of the works you cite. E.g. Hatch. (There are many others in your books-all of which I have read---Have you read all of mine??)This is fringy stuff. Progress comes from convergent work, not the adoption of weak arguments and cherry-picking data. Sure, there is little doubt that the Maya could have been aware of the change of rise -set positions of stars & the change of heliacal rise set dates. Big deal. This is a long way from saying they "knew about precession" and worse, that they forward calculated the LC in tune with it. .  The only astronomically significant info in the LC is possibly a zenith passage in one case and a solstice in another-that's it. If you are serious about dialog you need to pursue it through the open peer review system established for scholarly work. Write it up & submit it to one of the journals. If it's rejected, modify it. That's what I do. Why should'nt you? At this stage I think you are stuck on one idea & determined to prove it., why I know not. This way of proceeding just does not interest me. Flexibility in the face of concrete criticism is a hallmark of sound scholarship. I think at this point I will never talk you out of your belief. So we simply need to agree to disagree. A

>>>PS. This is a considered response.



>>>On 4/27/08 11:26 AM, "John Major Jenkins" <kahib@ix.netcom.com> wrote:



>>>Thank you for your considered response. I am surprised that you consider

>>>the identification of the Milky Way as a crocodile / tree to depend upon

>>>Schele & Friedel - there's a larger spectrum of ethnographic and

>>>iconographic evidence. I disagree with certain aspects of Schele's

>>>interpretations. What of David Stuart's connection between the Classic

>>>Period Starry Deer Crocodile (which he states to be associated with the

>>>Milky Way in his 2005 book on Palenque inscriptions) and the

>>>crocodile/caiman-tree on Stela 25 at Izapa? And, again, what of my

>>>archeo-astronomical observations at Izapa that argue for iconographic

>>>expressions of the Big Dipper and Milky Way - both connected to the

>>>concept of axis mundi?


>>>I believe there is much of great importance here that could and should

>>>lead into a meaningful dialogue. An important first question is whether

>>>or not the astronomical features involved in the solstice/dark rift

>>>alignment of era-2012 were of interest to the ancient Maya (dark rift,

>>>crossroads, sun). If the answer is yes, which it is, then that should

>>>justify further investigation. Although IMS is not a peer reviewed

>>>publication, it has provided a unique venue to foster a much needed

>>>dialogue between scholars who have not investigated 2012 as a worthy

>>>artifact of Maya calendar tradition and the independent researchers who



>>>Scholars comment largely only on the social phenomenon of 2012, pointing

>>>up the predictable millenarian hysteria that has developed around it,

>>>rather than investigating the thing-in-itself - that is, 2012 as a

>>>calendrical cycle ending that relates to Maya concepts in cosmology and

>>>eschatology.  I attach the two pages in which I respond to Milbrath's

>>>critique, which echoed your challenge regarding the galactic equator.


>>>It doesn't matter that the solstice-galaxy alignment can't be visibly

>>>observed in our era (misplaced concretism); what matters is the

>>>projection toward the alignment that was extrapolated by skywatchers

>>>some 2,100 years ago. The precessional orientations proposed by Marion

>>>Popenoe Hatch at La Venta and Takalik Abaj suggest some kind of

>>>calibration was taking place. Best wishes,


>>>      John Major Jenkins




>>>-----Original Message-----

>>>From: Tony Aveni [mailto:aaveni@mail.colgate.edu]

>>>Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 8:29 AM

>>>To: John Major Jenkins

>>>Subject: RE: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>>>I am always open to reading other peoples opinions & would be pleased to

>>>read anything you would care to send. my opinion of your theory is based

>>>on a thorough reading of what you have written, and that is as it should

>>>be. I consider myself a careful reader. I remain unconvinced that the

>>>Milky Way is a tree , that is,  I disagree with freidel and Schele. And

>>>I am not convinced of the importance of Izapa iconography assigned to it

>>>by you, Malmstrom, Norman, AND OTHERs. Also I do not believe that the

>>>sun´s solstitial passage thru the galactic plane holds any significance.

>>>Moreover it is not a visible event, but appears to me to be an artifact

>>>gleaned from modern astronomical software. In sum I do not see any need

>>>for a dialog at this time, notwithstanding I will continue to read the

>>>opinions of all who contribute to Maya studies. I f you will send me

>>>your critique in the  IMS newsletter I WILL BE GLAD TO READ THAT TOO.

>>>IN MY VIEW THIS IS Not a professional organization and does not have the

>>>status you accord it-- It is not a peer reviewed publication.



>>>From: John Major Jenkins [kahib@ix.netcom.com]

>>>Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 11:18 PM

>>>To: Tony Aveni

>>>Subject: RE: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>>>Hi Tony,

>>>Thank you for your response. I don't assume at all that you have a

>>>personal score or anything, I was just wanting to frame a potential

>>>dialogue that we may engage in such that we deal only in the evidence

>>>and the facts. My interest in engaging in an honest and open exchange

>>>with you would have no real imperative attached to it were it not for

>>>the impending documentary entitled "Ancient Skywatchers." It seems

>>>prudent, in the interest of clarity, to have some cordial conversations

>>>regarding the various elements of my theory. The critique that you have

>>>offered, that I am aware of, assumes several things about my working

>>>hypotheses that are not correct. For the record, I clarified these,

>>>along with Susan Milbrath's similar critique, in the recent Institute of

>>>Maya Studies newsletter. (I will happily send you the two-page PDF file

>>>if you haven't seen it.) If no rebuttal to my clarification is offered

>>>and your critique is insisted upon and put forward in the documentary, I

>>>don't suspect it will move the discussion forward. There will be no real

>>>dialogue and potential progress will be stifled.


>>>What I was hoping for was your valued assessment, as a pioneer

>>>archaeoastronomer who I greatly respect, of my observations regarding

>>>the alignment of the Izapan ballcourt with the December solstice sunrise

>>>position. I believe this provides a context for interpreting the

>>>iconography on the carved monuments in the ballcourt, notably the throne

>>>on the west end of the ballcourt. Are you aware that Brigham Young

>>>scholar V. Garth Norman's 1980 thesis on the astronomy at Izapa

>>>completely neglected the Group F ballcourt? And Julia Guernsey

>>>Kappleman's recent book on Izapa likewise completely neglected to

>>>discuss the Group F ballcourt? As such, there is an unfortunate and

>>>continuing dearth of "admissible academic commentary" by Maya scholars

>>>regarding the archaeoastronomical situation in the Izapan ballcourt.


>>>My observations are based on the BYU mapping data - which remained

>>>un-elucidated in the BYU commentaries (and misinterpreted by Dr. Timothy

>>>Laughton) - as well as my own observations and measurements performed,

>>>on my own dime during several field trips since 1990, at Izapa. Please

>>>see my research and photos at:



>>>Also, check out the neat little azimuth instrument I designed and

>>>brought to Izapa with me for solstice 2006:



>>>Wouldn't you agree that this would be a good time, given the impending

>>>documentary, to discuss the evidence that underlies my reconstruction in

>>>an open minded way? Perhaps we can begin with Michael Coe's comment that

>>>Izapa was involved in the formulation of the Long Count calendar. And

>>>then proceed with the fact that Izapa, and Izapan culture, was in its

>>>heyday when the earliest Long Count monuments are dated (the 1st century

>>>BC). Also, recent findings at Takalik Abaj have provided some

>>>astronomical surprises that reinforce my observations at Izapa. Best

>>>wishes, in the hopes of an open minded dialogue,


>>>John Major Jenkins



>>>-----Original Message-----

>>>From: Tony Aveni [mailto:aaveni@mail.colgate.edu]

>>>Sent: Friday, April 25, 2008 6:36 PM

>>>To: John Major Jenkins

>>>Subject: RE: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>>>jmj-- i  HAVE  no personal score to pick with you , but having read your

>>>work and always intent on keeping up with all the literature I can tell

>>>you that  I am a non believer in your theory. Moreover I SEE NOTHING OF

>>>SIGNIFicance in the material record at Izapa to accord it any special



>>>From: John Major Jenkins [kahib@ix.netcom.com]

>>>Sent: Wednesday, April 23, 2008 10:32 AM

>>>To: Tony Aveni

>>>Subject: Hello from researcher John M Jenkins


>>>Hello Dr Aveni,


>>>I hope you are doing well. I believe you are familiar with my work and

>>>must be aware of the developing PBS documentary called Ancient

>>>Skywatchers. I've seen this project develop since its very initial

>>>stages and was involved in early consultations regarding the evolving

>>>script and the work of scholars such as yourself and the Tedlocks. So,

>>>naturally, I have high hopes that it can move the discussion of ancient

>>>Maya astronomy forward. Indeed, the script originally centered around my

>>>work on the astronomy of era-2012. The site of Izapa is an important

>>>archeo-astronomical site and one of the discoveries I've made involves

>>>the alignment of the ballcourt at Izapa with the December solstice

>>>sunrise horizon.


>>>Given the iconography on the carved monuments in the ballcourt, this

>>>solstice alignment becomes a key to understanding what the Izapa

>>>astronomers were studying. I'd very much like to discuss the

>>>implications of this archeo-astronomical situation, which I assume

>>>should be of some interest to you. My hope is that the PBS documentary

>>>can clarify some of the critiques of my work, and we can move beyond

>>>personal criticisms and address the evidence I bring to the table. My

>>>main concern is in reconstructing ancient Maya cosmology. Eschatology,

>>>philosophical speculations, and theology often come into play in the

>>>larger definition of "cosmology" but astronomy is, of course, a central

>>>area of interest. Are you aware of Barbara MacLeod's recent findings,

>>>regarding a precession interval associated with kingship rites in the

>>>hieroglyphic chronologies? Best wishes,


>>>John Major Jenkins