But what is 2012? Why do people – lots of people, in fact – think the world is going to end on December 21, 2012? It's a fairly popular conspiracy theory, as these things go, right up there with Nostradamus. (And definitely more popular than the guy who believes the world is run by lizard people.) Back it up and let's take an all-too-brief look at the Mayan civilization and religion and why the date 12/21/2012 has got some people nervous.
Who Were the Mayans?
The Mayans were a technologically advanced Mesoamerican culture that lived in the Yucatan Peninsula and parts of Central America. The Mayans truly flourished in the Classic period, which was around 600 years between AD 300 to AD 900. During that time, the Mayans developed a more complex social order, as well as city-states with prosperous trade. There were also plenty of impressive palaces, pyramids, and ceremonial structures, but perhaps the most significant aspect of the Mayan civilization is their discoveries about science and astronomy, which led them to develop a sophisticated series of calendars. One of those calendars just so happens to end on December 21, 2012.