Sumerian and Babylonian Numerals



Closely linked - treat as one civilisation.

In the original form the symbols for 1 and 60 would be distinguished

1     
60
With the later cuneiform numerals 1 and 60 were both represented by a simple wedge

Question - how could the Sumerians and Babylonians distinguish between 1 and 60? Sometimes from the position of the wedge and sometimes from context.

60101010
(Sumerians wrote from left to right)

obviously first symbol is 60 because they would write largest unit first.

In later times the notation was simplified further. All powers of 60 were denoted by a single wedge and ten times a power of 60 by an L shaped wedge
Later the same symbols and were also used to denote fractions