In what ways were the civilization of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas advanced?
1) The Mayans developed a highly advanced number system, based on 20 (vigesimal system). They also discovered the importance of using zero. Few other civilizations made this discovery.
2) Priests studied the sky and the stars from observatories and were able to track the movements of the planets and stars, including the sun. As they became aware of the paths of the sun and changes in the weather due to its location, they discovered the seasons. The Mayans used this knowledge of seasonal changes to improve their agriculture. They knew that as the distance from equator to the sun decreased, their growing season would be coming closer. As it came closer to the end of the season, they would know when they needed to harvest their crops. This is also how the Mayan Calendar came to be.
1) The Aztecs also had an advanced mathematical system, much like the Mayans (also based on 20).
2) The Aztecs could invent and adapt things such as the sun stone and calendar
The sun stone- a huge stone calendar that was twelve feet wide and weighed almost 25 tons, covered in beautiful carvings that showed the Aztec’s dedication to the sun god by having its face carved into the center.
The Aztecs also adapted the solar and sacred calendar made by the Mayans. The solar calendar, with 365 days was very useful for farming because it tracked the seasons. They also used the sacred calendar to determine when certain events would occur and know the lucky days for cases like going to war, planting crops, and hunting.
1) The Incas had no written language, so they used tools like yupanas and quipus to help them.
A yupana was a type of stone calculator, approximately 20cm. by 30cm. large that had carved or sculpted quadrants inlaid into the tablet. The Incas would place small pebbles or corn seed on the quadrants and then would use it like an abacus.
The other tool they used was the quipu (a toy made for children today). This was a cord held horizontally where knots on the strings hanging down would represent particular things. The placement of these knots also held information. These different positions represented a base-10 counting system. The units digit was near the end of the string, the tens near the middle, the hundreds little after that, and so on.
It is still unknown whether or not the Incas used the quipu to solve mathematical problems. It was most likely just a way to keep records. These two inventions were very efficient forms of counting and would lead to other mathematical discoveries later on.
2) Inca’s developed vast skills of engineering that can be seen in their buildings.
3) The Incas developed terrace farming, used today in big cities, due to lack of farming land.