Closely linked - treat as one civilisation.
In the original form the symbols for 1 and 60 would be distinguished
1With the later cuneiform numerals 1 and 60 were both represented by a simple wedge
60
Question - how could the Sumerians and Babylonians distinguish between 1 and 60? Sometimes from the position of the wedge and sometimes from context.
60 | 10 | 10 | 10 |
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
The Babylonian system of writing numbers is a place value system, value of wedge depends on its position.
Systematic use of a place value notation has great advantages in computations and the Babylonians base of 60 has special advantage because it has so many factors.
Serious drawback - no symbol for zero, to overcome this difficulty the Babylonians introduced a special symbol to indicate an empty space.
, 0, 4 = 3604
This system was used by astronomers - divided the degree into 60 minutes and minutes into 60 seconds.
The Alexandrian astronomer Ptolomy (C2 AD) used the symbol 0 for zero not only between digits but also at the end of a number. This gave the finishing touch to the sexagesimal system - the value of every written number was now completely determined.
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