Officials at Mexico's archaeology institute acknowledged Thursday that a second reference exists to a Mayan prediction of some sort of apocalypse in late December 2012.

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MEXICO CITY — Officials at Mexico’s archaeology institute downplay theories that the ancient Mayas predicted some sort of apocalypse would occur in 2012, but they acknowledged Thursday that a second reference to the date exists on a carved fragment found at a southern Mexico ruin site.

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.

But the National Institute of Anthropology and History said there is another apparent reference to the date at the nearby Comalcalco ruin. The inscription is on the carved or molded face of a brick.

Arturo Mendez, a spokesman for the institute, said the fragment of inscription had been discovered years ago and has been subject to thorough study.

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The “Comalcalco Brick,” as the second fragment is known, has been discussed in some online forums. Many still doubt it is a definite reference to Dec. 21, 2012, or Dec. 23, 2012, the dates cited by proponents of the theory as the possible end of the world.

The brick date coincides with the end of the 13th Baktun; Baktuns were roughly 394-year periods and 13 was a sacred number for the Mayas. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3114 B.C., and the 13th Baktun ends around Dec. 21, 2012.

The Tortuguero inscription describes something that is supposed to occur in 2012 involving Bolon Yokte, a Mayan god associated with war and creation. However, erosion and a crack in the stone make the end of the passage almost illegible.

The Institute of Anthropology and History has long said rumors of a world-ending or world-changing event in late December 2012 are a Westernized misinterpretation of Mayan calendars.

The institute’s experts say the Mayas saw time as a series of cycles that began and ended with regularity, but with nothing apocalyptic at the end of a given cycle.

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