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However, unlike our system, which is based on powers of 10, the Maya (and Mesoamericans in general) used powers of 20.

Since glyph blocks are arranged in a grid, one would think that the reading order is either in rows or columns.

In reality, Maya glyphs are read in "paired columns", meaning that the first glyph block is on the top left, the second is immediately to the right of the first, the third is under the first, the fourth under the second, and so forth. When you arrive at the bottom of this "paired column", you will then go back up to the top and start the next paired column.

This mouthful of words means that the position of a "digit" dictates its actual numerical value.

The "Maya" in general were actually not a single people but many nations with different, but related, cultures, religions, and languages.

The Maya hieroglypic writing is arguably one of the most visually striking writing systems of the world.

It is also very complex, with hundreds of unique signs or glyphs in the form of humans, animals, supernaturals, objects, and abstract designs.

It became distinguishable from other early farming cultures of Mesoamerica in the middle of the first millenium BCE, when the first great Maya cities were constructed.