The ancient Mesoamericans used a form of calendar called the Calendar Round. It consisted of multiple circles that fit together like gears on a bicycle chain to give a combined date. Every 18,980 days, the calendar had gone in a complete rotation and started over again. The Mayans used an extremely large form of the Calendar Round called the Long Count calendar. This cycle was 13 bak'tuns long(1,872,000 days).
The reason the Mayans made their calendar so large was because they were one of the few civilizations to actually pick a beginning date of time, and make each day that followed it a special day that was 'never' to appear again. Or so they might have thought.
According to scientists and archaeologists, the Mayan calendar ends on exactly December 23, 2012. So the issue we are dealing with here is whether the Mayans actually believed to world to end on that date. Lets look at this all from a scientific perspective.
First, some further explanation needs to be put into the way the Long Count works. Although this was already included in the other essay on this topic, I believe this text is incomplete without it.
The Mayans used a very different number system than we do. We use the number 10 to organize our numbers, while they use 20. When counting out dates they begin with a k'in, which is one day. Next is the winal which is 20 k'ins. Then comes the tun, which is 18 winals(360 days). Next is a k'atun which is 20 tuns(7,200 days). And finally a bak'tun is 20 ka'tuns(144,00 days).
So, when showing the date they would use something similar to a format like this:
The first day of the Long Count = 0 0 0 0 1 or (0 bak'tuns, 0 k'atuns, 0 tuns, 0 winals, and one k'in)
But enough of the technical stuff; let's try to answer the question now. Did the Mayans believe the world would end when their calendar ended?
To answer, we look at context clues, which in this case would be civilizations around the Mayans. These civilizations used similar calendars that were just much smaller, and reset them many times. So obviously this would lead one to conclude that the Mayan calendar would simply start over as well.
But no other civilization had a beginning date either. The Mayans seemed to want every day to be unique... so does that mean they fashioned their calendar to extend until the end of time?
All of this is guess-work, and brings no real conclusions. But finally I have one resolute piece of information to settle it all! Nothing more is needed!
One Mayan king predicted that the day he was crowned would still be celebrated at the end of an 8,000 year cycle... a cycle that would in in the year 4772. That is nearly 2,800 years after the so-called end of the world!
So how could the Mayan king have predicted such a thing if they all believed that they wouldn't be around then? I think this is conclusive to all studies on the subject, and at last tells us that the Mayans never believed in a set end of the world.