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Mayan Mathematics By: Marissa Steudler And Judy Landis

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Discovery of Mayan Math Landa discovered the religious practices, hieroglyphics, and the history of the Mayans while he lived amongst them. In 1566, he wrote a book on the Mayans. The book described the hieroglyphics, customs, temples, religious practices, and history of the Mayans. The book resurfaced in 1869. Landa was Christian and thought that the books were all writings of the devil, therefore he ordered that all Mayan books be burned and all idols be destroyed. Some documents that survived Landa’s destruction was the Dresden codex and various other original documents, which helped understand the Mayan way of thinking.

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The Dresden Codex

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The Discovery of Mayan Math (Continued) Mayan math started with the counting of fingers and then adding toes. Therefore it is based on 20 units. The Mayans were the first to come up with zero. One of the biggest purposes was to represent large numbers by only using 3 symbols. The Mayan counting system allowed the people to record long periods of time and also arithmetic.

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The Concept of Mayan Math… o Was to represent numbers by only using 3 symbols; a dot, a bar, and a symbol for zero. o The dot is worth 1 unit o The bar is worth 5 units o The zero is symbolized by a shell. o Used base 20. o Large numbers were expressed by using place values. o By using the base 20 system, they were able to calculate larger numbers o Number system for addition and subtraction.

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Prevailing View Before the Discovery Prior to the discovery of Mayan mathematics European countries were so advanced in mathematics that they already had algebra. So, it didn’t directly effect their current views. The discovery effected the way we understand the Mayan culture and helped explain who they were. The Mayans discovery documented one of the earliest working number systems that they weren’t aware of.

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How the Discovery Impacted Society Impacted the calendar to measure the days. Used the number system to find out how long it took the planets to orbit. Used for religious rituals and prophecies. The Dresden codex in which we have any written evidence of this mathematical system. At the time that the Mayans had a working number system, Europe was still struggling to use the Roman numeral system. Astronomy, mythology, and the calendar were important parts of Mayan society. Two fundamental ideas behind mathematics Positional value The concept of zero

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