The Maya's Mathematical System

Improved Essays
The Maya used their advanced knowledge in mathematics to invent the most accurate calendar system in ancient times. The Maya had a clever mathematical system that was very useful for many of their calculations. "They used a mathematical system based on the number 20. Their use of place notation and their invention of the zero allowed them to make immense calculations, sometimes involving millions. Their mathematical abilities in turn allowed them to make the calculations necessary for their highly precise calendrical system” (Sabloff 1) The concept of zero was very complicated and rarely used in other civilizations. However, the Maya incorporated the number allowing them to write any whole number with just three symbols. This let them …show more content…
The civilization thrived in providing food for their population despite the harsh jungle environment. They also had no access to draft animals or metal tools for help, but used stone instead. The Maya invented numerous ways for farming efficiently, including the Slash and Burn method, Terrace farming, and Raised Bed farming. The Slash and Burn method was good for small scattered populations, but inefficient for urban civilizations. Land was burned of trees and weeds, then fertilized with ash. Fields were allowed to rest for about 2 to 3 years, and replenished their nutrients with regrowth. Terrace farming was only done in mountainous highland areas on steep hillsides. Sloped landscape was artificially leveled, increasing productivity because of retained water kept in the soil. In lowland areas where most of the farming was held, the Maya farmed with the Raised Bed method, where field was raised from low swampy areas. "These provided fertile and well-drained growing conditions for a variety of crops, including maize, cotton, and possibly cacao. Raised fields are built by digging narrow drainage canals in water-saturated soils and heaping the earth to both sides, forming raised plots for growing crops. By periodically dredging the muck from the drainage channels, farmers replenished the raised plots with fresh soil and organic …show more content…
The Maya strongly believed in the influence of the cosmos in their daily lives, and believed humans needed to follow certain patterns for the relationship to stay harmonious. The Mayas’ understanding of celestial bodies was far advanced for their time, as they were able to predict solar and lunar eclipses with mathematical tables from 300 CE. The Maya also had important past knowledge from generations of astronomer-priests, which helped them make accurate observations of Venus and the Moon. Astronomy was sometimes associated with architecture as well, as the Maya built certain structures in relation to celestial bodies. They believed the moon, planets, and the sun represented a certain gods. One of these gods was the serpent god. "The great celestial reptilian god extended across the entire sky (the Milky Way) as a two-headed beast, one head associated with life, the other with death. Many depictions show Maya kings carrying in their arms a representation of this cosmic deity, known as the double-headed serpent bar." (Watts 1). Rulers wanted to be seen as having a connection with the heavens and being a descendant of a god. As the celestial reptilian god was a very important figure in the Maya life, these religious beliefs were sometimes incorporated in Maya architecture. The Mayan temple El Castillo at Chichen Itza shows an example of Maya 's’ perfect

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