Aztec Math

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Aztec math used a rod symbol, equal to 2.5 meters, to indicate standard units of measurements and often related measurements to the human body. Learn the Aztec measurements for different body parts with information from a math teacher in this free video math lesson.

Part of the Video Series: Math Problems & History
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Video Transcript

So, how do you do Aztec math. What is that about? Hi. I'm Jimmy. I've been teaching college math for nine years now, and I'm here to give you a little bit of insight as to what Aztec math has been all about, because frankly, it's been one complicated subject. As a matter of fact, folks have been working on it for a long time now and only in April of 2008 has there actually been articles published actually stating what some of those Aztec symbols mean. One thing you definitely have to understand is that ancient civilizations back in the day when they worked with mathematics, used a lot of symbols and the Aztecs were no different. So, in April of 2008, a group of people came out with this study on analyzing Aztec symbols. Now, they used a lot of these symbols for land plots for purposes such as tax assessment and other financial matters. Now, the standard unit of Aztec math is actually the rod, which is a line. Now, one rod is equal to 2.5 meters. And in this April article of their findings, they were able to decipher what the other symbols meant as it related to this standard unit of one rod. Now, once again, remember that one rod is equal to 2.5 meters. And all the other symbols that you will see very shortly will indicate how these symbols relate to the standard unit of one rod. And there's going to be quite a few fractions, so here we go. First, you have one hand, which is equal to 3/5 of one rod. One arrow, which is equal to 1/2 a rod. Now, there were three other major symbols that they were able to decipher. They used one heart, which is 2/5 of a rod. One arm, which is equal to 1/3 of a rod. And one bone, which is equal to 1/5 of a rod. Now, if all of these parts look like a part of the human body, well, that's what they used back in the day. They used their human bodies to try to measure things. And so, here you have five of these body parts. And these are how they relate to the standard unit of measurement of the Aztec math, which is one rod. So, I'm Jimmy and that offers you some insight into Aztec math.

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