The end is not near.
At least that's according to a German expert who says his decoding of a Mayan tablet with a reference to a 2012 date denotes a transition to a new era and not a possible end of the world as others have read it.
The interpretation of the hieroglyphs by Sven Gronemeyer of La Trobe University in Australia was presented for the first time Wednesday at the archeological site of Palenque in southern Mexico.
His comments came less than a week after Mexico's archeology institute acknowledged there was a second reference to the 2012 date in Mayan inscriptions, touching of another round of talk about whether it predicts the end of the world.
Gronemeyer has been studying the stone tablet found years ago at the archeological site of Tortuguero in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
He said the inscription describes the return of mysterious Mayan god Bolon Yokte at the end of a 13th period of 400 years, known as Baktuns, on the equivalent of Dec. 21, 2012. Mayans considered 13 a sacred number. There's nothing apocalyptic in the date, he said.
The text was carved about 1,300 years ago. The stone has cracked, which has made the end of the passage almost illegible.
Gronemeyer said the inscription refers to the end of a cycle of 5,125 years since the beginning of the Mayan Long Count calendar in 3113 B.C.