Archaeologists in Guatemala announced the discovery of the second-known reference to the "end date" of the Mayan calendar, found inscribed on panels recently uncovered at the La Corona archaeological site.
The panels are 1,300 years old, and are considered one of the most significant hieroglyphic discoveries in decades.
[Dr. David Stuart, University of Texas at Austin]:
"I was very amazed and amused yesterday to notice that that panel records the date of the end of the 13th baktun (20 cycles of the Mayan long count calendar), which for us is coming up in just a few months time in December of 2012. Here we have a Mayan monument that was carved 1,500 years ago that's talking about the year we're in right now."
In the Mayan calendar, the long calendar count begins in 3,114 BC and is divided into roughly 394-year periods called Baktuns.
Mayans held the number 13 sacred and the 13th Baktun ends on December 21, 2012.
The inscriptions depict the visit to La Corona by the ruler of the nearby Mayan city of Calakmul after a stinging military defeat, apparently in an effort to reassure worried allies.
The inscriptions also predict that the ruler's lineage will continue, rather than any apocalyptic prophecies.
Tomas Barrientos, the Director of the Centre of Anthropological and Archaeological Investigations at Guatemala's Universidad del Valle, said that the archaeological site ranks among the most important Mayan sites in Central America or Mexico.
According to a May poll, nearly 10 percent of people think the Mayan calendar could signify the apocalypse will happen in 2012.