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Mayan prophecy is for drought or disease, not apocalypse, say bone boffins

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Those folks counting down to the end of the world, currently scheduled for 21 December according to the Mayan calendar, are going to be disappointed, a gaggle of experts have said.

Archaeologists, anthropologists and other experts in old things meeting over the weekend in Mexico have suggested that the Mayas may indeed have made various prophecies about that fateful date, just not a doomsday one, AP reported.

The boffins convened to discuss the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is made up of 394-year periods called baktuns. Since Mayas started their calendar at 3114 BC, the 13th baktun will begin on 21 December, 2012. The number 13 was a significant number for the Mayas.

However, that significance does not point to the scream-filled end of days for mankind, possibly as a Sun flare ravages our planet or the Earth's magnetic field reverses or (insert favourite apocalyptic scenario here).

Instead, the end of the cycle could be a milestone, a prophecy of something a bit less final, like droughts or disease outbreaks. “The Mayas did make prophecies, but not in a fatalistic sense, but rather about events that, in their cyclical conception of history, could be repeated in the future,” said Alfredo Barrera, of the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History.

There's also the fact that the prophecies don't stop at 21 December. Instead, Maya monuments refer to events even further into the future, thousands of years from now. "The king of Palenque, K'inich Hanaab Pakal, believed he would return to the Earth a couple of thousand years from now in the future," Braswell wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

“This thing about looking for end-times is not something that comes from Maya culture,” said Alexander Voss, an anthropologist at the University Of Quintana Roo, in Mexico. ®

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