The Mayans were one of the most important civilizations and were located in Mesoamerica, one of the cradles of the most important civilizations in the world. This time we are going to focus on the** Mayan numeral system and Mayan numbers**in which the great advance in mathematics, astronomy, architecture and its art stands out.

Located mainly in the southern territory of **Mexico** Y **Guatemala**the** Mayans** They were a civilization of great importance for the history of **America** and the world in general. They have developed a very rich culture in different fields, such as architecture, astronomy, and especially mathematics.

Their **numeric system**developed independently from the rest of the world, was very advanced and complex, so much so that they even had the notion of the **Zero**something that arrived in Europe, for example, recently from the Arabs and that the Hindus already developed in the 5th century BC

## The Mayan numbering system

The **writing system** of this civilization was called by specialists as **maya hieroglyph,** since it is a set of very elaborate glyphs and that many historians have vaguely reminded them of the writing used in Ancient Egypt.

It was a combination of** phonetic symbols and ideograms,** being a very hard job to be able to decipher its content. In addition to this, the small number of Mayan writing documents is also considered, due to the fact that shortly after the conquest, the Spanish priests ordered the burning of all Mayan books. Moreover, it is the **only Mesoamerican writing system that has been deciphered**.

Regarding the numbering system and the Mayan numbers themselves, it should be noted that the Mayans invented a numbering system such as **instrument mode for measuring time** and not to do mathematical calculations, unlike many other civilizations. They used a vigesimal numbering system, based on dashes, snails and dots, as you can see in the photos in the post.

In this way, the Mayan numbers are directly related to the days, months and years, being also organizers of the **Mayan calendar** which is also well known, not only due to its many legends but also because it is one of the first known calendars (along with the Roman one). A fact that may seem curious about their solar calendar is that they considered the year in 18 units of 20 days.

Furthermore, the Mayans were the **first civilization to develop a positional system**. That is, a mathematical system in which the value of a number varies according to its position (we will explain it in more detail later).

## How to write the Mayan numbers from 1 to 100

In the **Mayan numbering** there were only three symbols to represent the numbers, although these forms varied according to use: some were for monuments, others for codices, and others were human representations.

The **three basic symbols** they were the point that is equal to one, the line that its value is five and the snail (also known as shell or seed) is value zero. Combining these symbols, the numbers from 0 to 20 were obtained, as can be seen in the image at the beginning of the post. This is how he** mayan number system** amounts are grouped 20 by 20. Hence it is called** vigesimal system **because it is based on the number 20.

Now we see** how to write the numbers from 21 onwards.**

As we have already said, the system is positional and **the value of a figure varied according to the vertical position it occupies in a number**. On the lower level are the numerals, which are the numbers from 0 to 20. On the upper level, any number that is placed is worth this figure multiplied by 20. Here we see the example of the number 25.

**How do you read this?** The lower part is 5 (a line equals 5), and the upper part equals 20 (the dot equals 1 and is multiplied by 20 for being in the 2nd level).

When the 3rd level is used, the number located there is multiplied by 400 (20 x 20). When the 4th level is used, the number located there is multiplied by 8000 (20 x 20 x 20). Here you will find 3 examples of how to write this type of **numbers**.

## Mayan numbers for elementary school children

**Teach Mayan numbers to elementary school children** It may seem difficult at first, however we can also make it fun. Well, after all, we are using symbols and drawings, graphic elements that children tolerate quite well and that they will learn quickly if we motivate them enough. Learning exercises can be formulated through games.

Prior to explaining the Mayan numbers to children, even if we are in math class and not history, it is important to make it clear to them who the Mayans were, what they believed in, what they contributed to our civilization and why they devised this numbering system. . Awakening their curiosity will make it easier for them to fully immerse themselves in the study of this very special and original numbering system.

the system **dots and dashes** It is a game to memorize and even have fun playing Mayan numbers. Later you will learn, throughout this post, everything you have to master about Mayan numbers, how it works, how numbers are formed and other curiosities, so you will have to keep reading. But focusing on children, here we want to share a video that will be useful during the study of the subject.

## How the Mayan number system works

We are before a **vigesimal number system** which is mainly based on the **number 5 as base**. It is a numbering system that works with three and four levels. Each unit is represented by a dot until it reaches four, and from there it is combined with other symbols.

If we are in the third level, we have to know that **each number would equal** to 400. However, and to adjust to the calendar, which consists of 365 days, each point will only be equivalent to** at 360**because the multiple that comes closest to it.

When we reach five we find a horizontal line, to which we will add points to form the numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9.

## Curiosities about the Mayan numbering system

The Mayans devised this system more than 2,000 years ago. It is believed that the first numbering tests of this culture date back hundreds of years BC.

Secondly, **The Mayans are the first culture that represented the number 0 in America.**. That is, somehow, the Mayans already understood the concept of “zero” and “nothing”.

The Mayans did not invent this number system to perform mathematical operations, but to **measure the time**. For this reason, most of the symbols found in the archaeological remains are aimed at the measurement of time and its division into fractions.

The vigesimal system used by the Mayans is considered one of the most accurate ever created. In fact, it is believed that **the accuracy of the Mayan calendar was greater than that of the Gregorian calendar** and as precise as current measurement systems are.

Although it is true that the Mayans mainly used this numbering system to measure time, it is also true that they made, thanks in part to them, numerous advances in **mathematics, geometry or astrology**.

It is proven that the Mayans were able to understand the concept of **square, right triangle, circumference and circle** and they knew how to measure angles. In addition, they had a notion of many other geometric figures and volumes and were able to measure them. For example, the pyramid.

By the way, it should be noted that the numbering system we have talked about is not the only one that the Mayans had. Let’s continue learning with what we are going to explain next.

## Another Mayan number system

As if that were not enough, this was not the only Mayan number system, but they had a second way of representing numbers. In this case it was **represent them by means of glyphs**. This numbering system is known as **head numbering system**because the numbers are represented with the heads of different divinities. **The system is also vigesimal** and take as **main number 20**.

However, the number of deities that can be represented are only **14**therefore they would only arrive to cover the numbers of the **0 to 13**. How to cover the remaining 6 numbers up to 19? Very simple, the part of the **deity chin number 10** under numbers 4 to 9 to get numbers 14 to 19.

In any case, this system was not the usual one within the Mayans and most of the towns that confirmed this culture used the method of the points, the stripes and the shell.

Without a doubt, the **Mayan civilization** it is a fascinating culture, ahead of its time, about which too many things are still unknown, and perhaps forever. His advances in mathematics and in the number system were prodigious, to the point of surpassing almost everything seen in other contemporary civilizations.

## The fate of the Mayan number system

The collapse of the **Mayan civilization**the end of which is dated around **8th and 9th centuries** of our era, is one of the great mysteries of the History of Humanity. The progressive abandonment and disappearance of the great Mayan centers, which had become huge cities with a large population and headquarters of outstanding cultural advances, still today does not have an explanation that has managed to convince most historians.

The different hypotheses that the experts have given to justify said abandonment (such as the possibility of having suffered some type of attack or invasion that would have ended their **civilization**that there had been any **natural disaster** or the hypothesis that the depletion of resources forced the population to emigrate to more fertile lands, among many other theories), unprovable to date, have only increased the existing questions surrounding this event. However, what did this collapse mean for the impressive mathematical culture developed by the Maya?

As we have already seen in the previous lines, the Mayan mathematical system was one of the most advanced of the time, far surpassing the knowledge that was held about it in Europe at the time. However, we cannot say that his heritage has survived through the centuries. When the Spanish first arrived in the Yucatan area at the beginning of the 16th century, centuries had passed since the **collapse of the mayan civilization**reason why the contact of the Europeans with this culture was reduced to marveling at the remains that still remained of its enormous constructions.

Their **mathematical inheritance** it was picked up by other peoples who settled in the same geographical area, especially by the Aztecs, who also stood out for their use of mathematics and its application to the religious sphere. However, their system varied in many aspects from that applied by the Mayans, since they did not use the zero and their representations were pictorial instead of points and dashes, although the influence of the Mayans is seen in some aspects, such as in its base, which is also vigesimal. However, his system, less…