Concept

Babylonian cuneiform numerals

Summary
Assyro-Chaldean Babylonian cuneiform 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, who were famous for their astronomical observations, as well as their calculations (aided by their invention of the abacus), used a sexagesimal (base-60) positional numeral system inherited from either the Sumerian or the Akkadian civilizations. Neither of the predecessors was a positional system (having a convention for which 'end' of the numeral represented the units). Origin This system first appeared around 2000 BC; its structure reflects the decimal lexical numerals of Semitic languages rather than Sumerian lexical numbers. However, the use of a special Sumerian sign for 60 (beside two Semitic signs for the same number) attests to a relation with the Sumerian system.
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