A Mayan elder has insisted that the year 2012 will not bring the end of the world, despite claims that a Mayan calendar shows that time will "run out" on December 21 of that year.
A significant time period for the Mayans does end on the date, and enthusiasts have found a series of astronomical alignments they say coincide in 2012, including one that happens roughly only once every 25,800 years. But, according to a report in the Telegraph, most archaeologists, astronomers and Mayans say the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, Internet doomsday rumours and TV specials on the 2012 conspiracy theory.
According to Apolinario Chile Pixtun, a Guatemalan, the doomsday theories spring from Western, not Mayan ideas.
Found at an obscure ruin in southern Mexico during highway construction in the 1960s, the stone tablet almost did not survive. The site was largely paved over and parts of the tablet were looted.
The inscription describes something that is supposed to occur in 2012 involving Bolon Yokte, a mysterious Mayan god associated with both war and creation.
However, erosion and a crack in the stone make the end of the passage almost illegible.
Guillermo Bernal, an archaeologist at Mexico's National Autonomous University, believes the eroded message is: "He will descend from the sky".
But, Bernal also notes that there are other inscriptions at Mayan sites for dates far beyond 2012 - including one that roughly translates into the year 4772.
The Mayan civilization, based in modern day Mexico and Central America, reached its height from 300 AD to 900 AD and had a talent for astronomy.
Its Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 BC, marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns.
Thirteen was a significant, sacred number for the Mayas, and the 13th Baktun ends around Dec 21, 2012.
"It's a special anniversary of creation," said David Stuart, a specialist in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin.
"The Maya never said the world is going to end, they never said anything bad would happen necessarily, they're just recording this future anniversary on Monument Six," he added.