I attended a talk given by Hood Fellow Professor Arturo Arias last night. He talked about the Mayan Calendar and the celebrations (20/12/12) for the end of one and the beginning new cycle around the Milky Way.
Arias said, the idea that the Mayan Calendar predicted the end of the world on December 21 last year was a confusion in the translation of a stelae or carving. He said the calendar that was translated was from a small, insigificant site and commissioned by some elder boasting of how long they would command the land they lived on. Turned out the community only lasted about seven years after the boast, but the carved calendar lived on to cause all sorts of debates and confusion last year.
It was an illuminating talk - especially the detail of the rituals the Mayans celebrated at different times according to calendars. Arias said the Mayans had very advanced knowledge of mathematics and astronomy, and held a great respect and understanding of the land, the people, and the cosmic connection between all things.