The Classical Maya city-state of Sokal flourished for around 300 years, with a golden age lasting roughly 150 years before it was swept up and largely destroyed in the chaos at the end of the Classical period. During that golden age, however, Sokal was noted for the skill and precision of its astronomers and mathematicians, and their work was considered to be of such value that several Sokal codices survive, having been rescued from the city for use by other Mayan polities.

Codex 117b, recovered in fragments from the library at Tiquil, is written in an unusual form and has attracted mild scholarly interest, especially in the lead-up to 2012 and the popular hysteria about the “end” of the Mayan calendar.

Excavations at Sokal, which was largely destroyed and plundered for stone before being reclaimed by the jungle, have suggested that the author of Codex 117b was an astronomer referred to as Cloud Jaguar in funerary inscriptions. Cloud Jaguar, if he is indeed the author, claims in 117b that the Mayan Short and Long Counts are natural cycles disconnected from human experience, a controversial opinion for a Classical Maya to hold. He argues for what is essentially a fractal view of history: much as a human will age from youth to decrepitude and inevitably die, so too will city-states, peoples, and the global civilization as a whole.

Some fringe groups have argued that Cloud Jaguar must have known of civilizations on other continents as a result of that assertion, but a close reading of the text shows that he does not mention any groups by name that the Classical Maya would not have been familiar with, and that the implication that there are other unknown peoples further afield is not unique. In any case, Cloud Jaguar cites what some believe to be an early version of later Aztec myth as proof of his theory: namely, that other worlds with other inhabitants arose and were laid low before the new human world replaced them utterly. He apparently goes on to speculate that the process has already begun for humans, and that their world will inevitably be totally destroyed and replaced with a new and wholly alien people.

Despite the scholarly interest in Codex 117b, it has not been examined using modern techniques due to its location in a private collection. It is worth noting that the best sources for its contents remain a series of black and white photographs taken at the Universidad Columbiana de Guatemala in 1949-1950.

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