Saturday, January 16, 2010

12 January: Numbers as a Language"

The Babylonians had a very advanced number system even for today's standards. It was a base 60 system (sexigesimal) rather than a base ten (decimal). Base ten is what we use today.The Babylonians divided the day into twenty-four hours, each hour into sixty minutes, and each minute to sixty seconds. This form of counting has survived for four thousand years.Any number less than 10 had a wedge that pointed down.

Example: 4

The number 10 was symbolized by a wedge pointing to the left.

Example: 20

Numbers less than 60 were made by combining the symbols of 1 and 10.

Example: 47

As with our numbering system, the Babylonian numbering system utilized units, ie tens, hundreds, thousands.

Example: 64

However, they did not have a symbol for zero, but they did use the idea of zero. When they wanted to express zero, they just left a blank space in the number they were writing.

When they wrote "60", they would put a single wedge mark in the second place of the numeral.

When they wrote "120", they would put two wedge marks in the second place.

Following are some examples of larger numbers.




(24*603) + (10*602) + (1*60) + 2
I chose this system as I have a video game that has these symbols on the walls of the game. So I felt a bit curious.