# Maya numerals

## System used by the ancient Mayan civilization to represent numbers and dates / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The **Mayan numeral system** was the system to represent numbers and calendar dates in the Maya civilization. It was a vigesimal (base-20) positional numeral system. The numerals are made up of three symbols: zero (a shell),^{[citation needed]} one (a dot) and five (a bar). For example, thirteen is written as three dots in a horizontal row above two horizontal bars; sometimes it is also written as three vertical dots to the left of two vertical bars. With these three symbols, each of the twenty vigesimal digits could be written.

Numbers after 19 were written vertically in powers of twenty. The Mayan used powers of twenty, just as the Hinduâ€“Arabic numeral system uses powers of ten.^{[1]}

For example, thirty-three would be written as one dot, above three dots atop two bars. The first dot represents "one twenty" or "1Ă—20", which is added to three dots and two bars, or thirteen. Therefore, (1Ă—20) + 13 = 33.

Upon reaching 20^{2} or 400, another row is started (20^{3} or 8000, then 20^{4} or 160,000, and so on). The number 429 would be written as one dot above one dot above four dots and a bar, or (1Ă—20^{2}) + (1Ă—20^{1}) + 9 = 429.

Other than the bar and dot notation, Maya numerals were sometimes illustrated by face type glyphs or pictures. The face glyph for a number represents the deity associated with the number. These face number glyphs were rarely used, and are mostly seen on some of the most elaborate monumental carvings.

There are different representations of zero in the Dresden Codex, as can be seen at page 43b (which is concerned with the synodic cycle of Mars).^{[2]} It has been suggested that these pointed, oblong "shell" representations are calligraphic variants of the PET logogram, approximately meaning "circular" or "rounded", and perhaps the basis of a derived noun meaning "totality" or "grouping", such that the representations may be an appropriate marker for a number position which has reached its totality.^{[3]}