[Images: Mayan Calendar Carvings] Each b'ak'tun is 144,000 days long, representing a little less than 400 years.It was the ending of one of these b'ak'tuns that led to rumors of the end of the world on Dec. Tracking time This base-20 Long Count calendar fell into disuse in the Mayan empire before Spanish explorers arrived in South and Central America in the 1500s.New Age believers and doomsday types have attributed great meaning to the Dec. Top Doomsday Fears] Now, researchers exploring the Mayan ruins of La Corona in Guatemala have unearthed a second reference.21, 2012 date, with some predicting an apocalypse and others some sort of profound global spiritual event. On a stairway block carved with hieroglyphs, archaeologists found a commemoration of a visit by Yuknoom Yich'aak K'ahk' of Calakmul, the most powerful Mayan ruler in his day. 696, probably trying to shore up loyalty among his subjects in the wake of his defeat four years earlier.
"This new evidence suggests that the 13 bak'tun date was an important calendrical event that would have been celebrated by the ancient Maya; however, they make no apocalyptic prophecies whatsoever regarding the date." The Mayan Long Count calendar is divided into bak'tuns, or 144,000-day cycles that begin at the Maya creation date. 21) is the last day of the 13th bak'tun, marking what the Maya people would have seen as a full cycle of creation.But only one archaeological reference to the 2012 date had ever been found, as an inscription on a monument dating back to around A. The king, also known as Jaguar Paw, suffered a terrible defeat in battle by the Kingdom of Tikal in 695. [See images of the carvings] As part of this publicity tour, the king was calling himself the "13 k'atun lord," the carvings reveal.Historians have long assumed that Jaguar Paw died or was captured in this battle. K'atuns are another unit of the Maya calendar, corresponding to 7,200 days or nearly 20 years. That's where the 2012 calendar end date comes in.The k'in are counted in 20-day cycles called winal or uinal, which in turn are catalogued in 360-day cycles called tuns.Twenty tuns make a 7,200-day k'atun (about 20 years), and 20 k'atuns then make a b'ak'tun.