2012 has been predicted to be the end of the world because the Maya calendar is supposed to end
– Ah well, the maya calendar … Which Maya Calendar? The Mayans had several calendar cycles. The tzolk’in is the spiritual cycle consisting of 260 days and there is an agricultural cycle called haab, consisting of 365 days. You might say: “My calendar ends every year. After that, I buy a new one for the following year.”
Indeed our Gregorian calendar is a cycle of 365 days divided into 12 months. And after that, we count the days of the year again. Basically, it is the same with the Mayan calendar. However, the numeric system of the Maya is vegisimal, meaning that it is based on 20.
The calendar elements of the mayans are:
Kin = 1 day
Uinal = 20 days
Tun = 360 days
A “Tun” would be roughly a year (like haab). But there are more measuring elements. The Maya also counted cycles of 20 and 400 years:
Katun = 7,200 days (20 years)
Baktuun = 144,000 days (400 years)
They use these measurements in their third calendar cycle: the long count
This long count uses the combination of days in the ritual and agricultural calendar plus the Katun and Baktuun (because the spiritual and agricultural calendar coincident every 52 years – so you also count the Katun and Baktuun).
The Maya calendar enters the 13th Baktuun on December 21st 2012. It is merely the beginning of a new Baktuun – not the end of the calendar.
The calendar cycles begin again. Of course the Mayans have a prophecy what happens this year, however, is is not related to the end of the world. Mayans even have prophecies for dates that belong another 2000 years into the future. And what do they tell us? The world will still be there.
A good article about the Maya calendar and debunking the myth about the end of the world in 2012 can be found in the German National Geographic Magazine. The illustration of the calendar cycles is excellent.
Parts of the Maya calendar in the Codex Dresdensis can be reviewed online.