CLAIM: The Maya calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012!
FACTS: With small local varaitions, Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica cultures used the same basic calendars; in some cases they had up to three different systems to keep track of time. For longer periods of time and to identify the order in which events occurred, the Maya used what is now known as the Long Count. This system defines a day as a K’in; twenty K’in make up one Winal (or Uinal); 18 Winal are equal to one Tun; 20 Tun make up a K’atun and 20 K’atun are equal to one B’ak’tun.
Any date could be recorded as a string (left to right) of these symbols or numbers, for example 126.96.36.199.2 would mean 2 K’in, 8 Winal, 10 Tun, 3 K’atun and 1 K’ak’tun or 169,362 days. Of course this would be the number of days from a certain, very specific date.
According to Maya historians, the last Long Count cycle lasted only 13 B’ak’tun (nobody knows why only 13) and ended on August 10, 3114 BC. 13 B’ak’tun add up to about 5125 years so, if we again consider a full Long Count cycle of only 13 B’ak’tun (again 13 B’ak’tun seems arbitrary), the next cycle will end on December 21, 2012. However, the Maya calendar is like the odometer in your car: once it reaches 99999 it starts all over again without any type of destruction. The Maya celebrated the end of each calendar cycle; they did not have a doomsday view on any calendar ending. It should also be noted that the Maya were able to predict lunar and solar eclipses for a few hundred years in the future but there is no evidence at all that the Maya made any type of predictions far into the future.