The Mayan Number System

There is widespread agreement and heaps of evidence that the Maya were extremely skilled mathematicians and astronomers. To this end, they had their own base 20 number system (per at least one source in accordance with the 20 digits found on the human body) that worked as follows:

The Basics:
Zero - represented by a shell
One - represented by a dot
Five - represented by a bar

Mayan Numbers

Larger Numbers
For larger numbers (numbers greater than 19) the Maya used vertical place holders instead of the horizontal place holders commonly used today. Additional powers of 20 expanded upwards. So, there was a ones place (1s), a twenties place (20s), a four-hundreds place (400s), etc. For example, in the table below, the far right column shows how you would write the number 5,125: (12x400) + (16x20) + (1x5).

Base 20 Mayan Number System