Babylonian numerals

From Academic Kids

Template:Table Numeral Systems

Babylonian numerals were written in cuneiform, using a wedge-tipped reed stylus to make a mark on a soft clay tablet which would be exposed in the sun to harden to create a permanent record.

The Babylonians used a sexagesimal (base-60) positional numeral system borrowed from the Sumerians. Since their system clearly had an internal decimal system and they used 60 as the second smallest unit instead of 100 as we do today, it is more appropriately considered a mixed-radix system of bases 10 and 6. Sexagesimals still survive to this day, in the form of degrees, minutes, and seconds in trigonometry and the measurement of time.

A common theory is that sixty was chosen due to its prime factorization 2×2×3×5 which makes it divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 30. Integers and fractions were represented identically - a radix point was not written but rather made clear by context.

Numerals

Image:Babylonian_numerals.jpg

External link

da:Babyloniske tal og cifre fr:Numération babylonienne nl:Babylonische cijfers

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