## How the Mayan number system works?

The Maya used the vigesimal system for their calculations – a system based on 20 rather than 10. This means that instead of the 1, 10, 100, 1,000 and 10,000 of our mathematical system, the Maya used 1, 20, 400, 8,000 and 160,000.

**Why was the Mayan number system important?**

Their number system enabled them to make really accurate astronomical predictions and they traced movements of the sun, moon, stars and even planets like Mars! In their numeral system, the ancient Maya only used three symbols to represent all numbers.

### Did the Mayans create a number system?

There were two numeral systems developed by the Mayans—one for the common people and one for the priests. Not only did these two systems use different symbols, they also used different base systems. For the priests, the number system was governed by ritual.

**How do you write 20 in Mayan?**

Maya numbers are based around the number 20, so in Maya numbers, 20 is a 1 and a 0. So write a dot for the 1 and leave a gap below it. Then below the gap, draw a clamshell – the Mayan symbol for zero. To write numbers from 21–39, think of them as 20 plus something.

## How did the Maya contribute to mathematics?

The sophisticated Mayan system of math enabled them to develop accurate time measurements (among the most accurate ever developed), erect huge step-pyramids, and control a vast system of trading with neighboring civilizations.

**How did Mayans write 60?**

Thus Mayans could write the number “60” simply by placing 3 (three dots) in the second layer (3×20=60) and a zero in the bottom layer. The top and bottom layers are then added together to get the total sum: 60+0=60.

### How did the Mayan deal with numbers over 19?

After the number 19, larger numbers were written in a kind of vertical place value format using powers of 20: 1, 20, 400, 8000, 160000, etc (see image above), although in their calendar calculations they gave the third position a value of 360 instead of 400 (higher positions revert to multiples of 20).