PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - You've heard the hype: The Mayan calendar ends on December 21st.
It's the end of the world!
But those in the know say "not so".
It's the most misunderstood accounting of time in history: The Mayan Calendar.
"The Mayan people are one of the sophisticated indigenous cultures of the Americas that were present here in the new world from around 2000 BC," said University of Penn Museum Associate Deputy Director Loa Traxler.
Traxler is an expert on the Mayan Calendar which is featured in the exhibit "Maya 2012, The Lords of Time."
Traxler says the Mayan Calendar is actually three calendars. The calendars mark time using the sun and the motion of the planets.
The Internet is ripe with speculation focused on the end of the 13th Bak'tun, set for roughly December 21, 2012.
The only problem is: "The Mayan calendar does not end in December of this year," said Traxler.
That's right, the Mayan Calendar doesn't end.
It's true, for years there was no record of any date after the end of the current Bak'Tun - a measurement of about 400 years but recently archeologists found a count of another trillion years at the Mayan ruins of La Corona, located deep in the rain forests of Guatemala.
But in all the years the Mayan calendar has been studied and scrutinized, archeologists failed to find one thing.
"They did not see the completion of the 13th BakTun as a time of destruction," said Traxler.
The Mayans never predicted planets colliding, asteroids slamming into the earth, war, disease or even locusts.
The truth is, the Mayans looked at counting time as a way of commemorating positive events and putting their culture in context with the past and important events in their future.
Look at it this way: in just a few days, we will take down our 2012 calendars and put up 2013.
Then we will go to a big party to celebrate the New Year.
That's exactly what the seven million Mayan descendents will be doing.
If you want to know more about the Mayan Calendar, check out "Maya 2012, Lords of Time" through January 13th at the Penn Museum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
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