# The Advancement Of The Mayan Civilization Essay — страница 2

concept of zero. During the late Preclassic period, the Mayans “invented” the concept of zero or nothing. This is an amazing task due to the fact that no other civilization, at that time, had started using this concept. The concept of zero is one of the two basics that are employed in the Mayan mathematical system. Zero furthermore increased their understanding of the universe and ,therefore, caused them to become even more advanced. The Mayan numerical system is quite amazing, because of its simplicity in design. The only three notations used in this system are a dot, a horizontal bar and a shell design. Therefore, to write large numbers the Mayans employ a second key principle to their system. That is relating the size of the number with its position. Unlike modern day civilizations, which use this same concept in a horizontal method, the Mayan used it in a vertical system of notation. The system worked under the principle that every level that the number moved vertically it would be multiplied by twenty. For example, the base line would keep its normal value, the second line would be twenty times what was written, the third line would be 400(20 times 20) times what was written and so on. This means that their system is a vigesimal one, which means that it is 5 based on the number twenty. Using a small number of signs and still containing a variety of uses further show the advancement of the civilization. One of the ancient Mayan’s most advanced skills was their very accurate astronomical observations. An amazing fact about their observations is that they never stopped making them. The accuracy of their findings is quite remarkable, considering that they had not yet discovered glass and, therefore, had no precision instruments. That means they had no clepsydra(water clock), clocks or hourglasses. They basically had nothing to tell exact time. Yet, they still calculated the lunar month to be 29.53020 days long, which is only .00039 of a day different from calculations of today. Due to their astronomy, the Mayans knew many things that other civilizations did not, such as the moon and Venus. They also realized that the Morning and Evening Star were the same thing. With these extremely accurate observation, the Mayans created the year consisting of 365 days. These observations helped them create many other beneficial things for their people and civilization. The Mayan study of astronomy produced a calendar that, to this day, is one of the most accurate ever produced. Their calendar was actually the combination of three other calendars; the Haab, the Tzolkin and the Calendar Round. The Tzolkin, or Sacred Almanac, was 260 days long and was divided into 13 twenty day months. The Haas 6 was 360 days long and was divided into 18 twenty day months plus an additional month of five days, which were unnamed. These two calendars are then combined in an interlocking fashion to form the Calendar Round. This interlocking cycle repeats every 52 years, or 18,980 days. Every Mayan date had two names, one in the Tzolkin and one in the Haas. Therefore, every one of the Calendar Round’s days has a different combination of day name, day number, month name and month number. Throughout their civilization, the calendar proved to be a very useful tool. The ancient Mayans were the most advanced ancient American civilization ever documented due to their amazing advancements in hieroglyphic writing, mathematics and astronomy. Their workings with hieroglyphics were one of the foundations of all writing systems from that day on. The Mayans astronomical observations are some of the most accurate ever recorded and their calendar is one of the bases of the modern day dating system. Their mathematical systems using the concept of zero show their prowess and understanding of the subject. Therefore, the Mayans are one of the most advanced ancient civilizations ever. Arguelles, Jose. The Mayan Factor; Path Beyond Technology. Santa Fe, NM: Bear and Company, 1987. Ivanoff, Pierre. Mayan Enigma; The Search for a Lost Civilization. New York: Delacorte Press, 1971. “Mayan Calendar.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. Volumn 7. 1998. “Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. Volumn 7. 1998. Morley, Sylvanus G. and George W. Brainerd. The Ancient Maya. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1983. Schele, Linda and David Freidel. A Forest of Kings; The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990. Stuart, Gene S. and George E. Stuart. Lost Kingdoms of the Maya. Washington, DC: National Goegraphic Society, 1993. Stuart, Gene S. and George E. Stuart, The Mysterious Maya. Washington, DC: National Geographic

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