1, 2, 3’s are not the same all over the world!
Yes, so we all need to count– and ‘two’ always means one and one more. But… number symbols themselves are not always the same wherever you go. Have you ever wondered just HOW people the world over developed their own unique number systems? Take the Mayans, for example. Starting in about A.D. 250, these people (Who lived in southern, present day Mexico, and parts of Central America), developed amazing ways to keep track of things. The first system was a series of picture glyphs– a real form of art. Imagine how long it would take to write down your birthday!
The second system of numbers was quicker to write. This one was a series of dots and dashes, with a special symbol for zero. Here are the first few numbers:
Can you figure it out? The dashes, or lines are worth 5 units each. The system was organized mostly in groups of 20. (Hmmm…could that number have been chosen because we have 20 fingers and toes?)
So, how about making some Mayan Number Cookies?
What you need:
1 package ready-made cookie dough
1 1.55 ounce chocolate bar
candies for the numbers (malt balls and licorice works well) + icing to ‘glue’ them on
What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the unwrapped chocolate bar in a zip-locking bag. Crush it with a rolling pin (an unopened can also works well)
2. Put the prepared cookie dough in a bowl and add the chocolate crumbs. Mix carefully.
3. Place some dough between two pieces of waxed paper and roll to about half an inch thick. Cut the dough into rectangles (to represent stone tablets).
4. Bake the cookies according to the package directions.
5. Once cool, construct the Mayan numbers. (See chart above) Use candies such as malt balls or M&M’s and licorice. Use icing to attach the candy Mayan numbers to the cookies.
Something else to think about…
What other number systems do you know? (Hint: How about Roman numerals: I, II, III, IV…etc?) How about Egyptian hieroglyphics or ancient Cuneiform? (Check these interesting number systems out on the web, or at your local library. Very awesome!)