Experts have warned that a Mayan prophecy predicting the world will end on 21 December, 2012 may be just an error in translation.
The Mayan Doomsday Prophecy was found on a stone tablet believed to be 1,300 years old.
Although hieroglyphs on the tablet were practically illegible, author Jose Arguelles interpreted them in his 1987 book, The Mayan Factor, as meaning "the ending of time as we know it", which spawned the apocalyptic warning.
But specialists now claim now the inscription merely indicates that Bolon Yokte, the Mayan god associated with war and creation, is due to return to Earth on that date, rather than it heralding a great catastrophe for the human race.
"We have to be clear about this. There is no prophecy for 2012," Erik Velasquez, an etchings specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told Reuters. "It's a marketing fallacy."
Sven Gronemeyer, a specialist on Mayan codes at La Trobe University in Australia, said although the date has great symbolic value, there is no mention of destruction or apocalyptic events on the tablet
"The Maya did not think about humanity, global warming or predict the poles would fuse together," Alfonso Ladena, a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, told Reuters. "We project our worries on to them."
The blockbuster film 2012, which was produced in 2009, used the Mayan text to predict a global catastrophe.