Indigenous people from Mexico celebrate the dawn of the new era and the new Mayan calendar with a series of dances and ceremonies at the base of the El Castillo pyramid, just after dawn.
Credit: Keith Dannemiller

CHICHEN ITZA, Mexico — Was it just another solstice marking the beginning of winter? Or the dawn of a new era, as predicted by Maya priests?

Whatever happened on Dec. 21, 2012, the world did not end.

GlobalPost visited one of the most sacred sites of the Maya world, Chichen Itza. At dawn as clouds shrouded the sky above, tourists, New Age folks and local indigenous people converged on the site to mark what for them was a momentous day.

  • At sunrise, the first visitors begin to arrive at the El Castillo pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico's stunning Maya archaeological site.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • More travelers reach the pyramid in anticipation of the solstice celebration.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • A woman breaks into a joyous run when she first sees the El Castillo at dawn.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Indigenous people from Mexico celebrate the dawn of the new era and the new Mayan calendar with a series of dances and ceremonies at the base of the El Castillo pyramid, just after dawn.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Indigenous groups from Mexico and travelers from around the world took in the new dawn at Chichen Itza.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Revelers in traditional indigenous garb dance on the sacred land of their ancestors.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Two revelers, visiting from the US, photograph indigenous dancers at the base of the El Castillo pyramid with their iPads.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Spiritual celebrants from outside Mexico participate in group prayers, meditation and movement at the base of the El Castillo pyramid just after sunrise.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Solemn prayer as the sun began to blaze down on the Mayan pyramid.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Meditation.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Collective prayers and meditation at the base of the El Castillo pyramid just after sunrise.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • A young indigenous girl, chosen to represent the new era ushered in on Dec. 21, is presented to the crowd of worshipers.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Sara Victor came from Canadian city of Nelson, British Columbia, to participate in the spiritual celebration.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • Participants in the festivities linked arms and held hands.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller
  • International TV crews cover the events of the spiritual celebration at Chichen Itza for the dawn of the new Mayan calendar.
    Credit: Keith Dannemiller

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