Measurement in Mesoamerica

The Aztecs developed a length units called maitl (the distance from outstretched fingertip to outstretched fingertip) and yolloti (meaning heart the distance from outstretched fingertip to center of chest). The Mayans where advanced in their measurement of time, developing a complex calendar system. Today we know the length of a year is 365.2422 days or 365 days, 5 hours, and 48 minutes. The Mayans had this measured length of a year almost exact (off by 1 minute). The Mayan Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Izta, built in 1050 has four stairways, each with 91 steps and a 1 step platform on top making a total of 365 steps!


Archaeological discoveries have found clay bowls of equal volume and equal divisions of one volume. Many goods traded in early markets were determined by a measurement of volume over a measurement of weight.

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