Even as mathematical developments in the ancient Greek world were beginning to falter during the final centuries BCE, the burgeoning trade empire of China was leading Chinese mathematics to ever greater heights.

Despite developing quite independently of Chinese (and probably also of Babylonian mathematics), some very advanced mathematical discoveries were made at a very early time in India.
Mantras from the early Vedic period (before 1000 BCE) invoke powers of ten from a hundred all the way up to a trillion, and provide evidence of the use of arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, squares, cubes and roots.

By the middle of the 1st Century BCE, the Roman had tightened their grip on the old Greek and Hellenistic empires, and the mathematical revolution of the Greeks ground to halt. Despite all their advances in other respects, no mathematical innovations occurred under the Roman Empire and Republic, and there were no mathematicians of note. The Romans had no use for pure mathematics, only for its practical applications, and the Christian regime that followed it (after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire) even less so.

The importance of astronomy and calendar calculations in Mayan society required mathematics, and the Maya constructed quite early a very sophisticated number system, possibly more advanced than any other in the world at the time (although the dating of developments is quite difficult).

Instead of the numbers 0 to 9,
Maya Math uses three symbols. This system allows very large numbers to be written – and long periods of time to be recorded – and makes complex math possible. Now that you know something about Maya math, do you think you are ready for the challenge?

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