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Greeting the New Era in the Maya Calendar

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The Maya "Apocalypse"
The Maya Apocalypse

Crowds gather at Chichen Itza for the end of the Maya calendar cycle.

© Suzanne Barbezat

On December 21, 2012, the long count cycle of the Maya calendar came to an end. Contrary to popular belief, the ancient Maya never predicted that the world would end on this date. What did come to an end is the long count calendar cycle of 13 "baktuns" (roughly 5125 years) which began on August 11, 3114 B.C. Misinterpretations of the meaning of the end of the calendar cycle had many predicting the end of the world, but ultimately the day was a quiet one.

Crowds gathered at archaeological sites throughout the Maya world to witness the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. Some expected a cataclysmic event, or even the Apocalypse, but mostly the day was uneventful, with groups of people and individuals ringing in the new era in the way each felt inspired to do so.

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