The Babylonians
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The Babylonians

 

The Babylonians lived in Mesopotamia, a fertile plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

They developed an abstract form of writing based on cuneiform (i.e. wedge-shaped) symbols. Their symbols were written on wet clay tablets which were baked in the hot sun and many thousands of these tablets have survived to this day. It was the use of a stylus on a clay medium that led to the use of cuneiform symbols since curved lines could not be drawn.

 

The Babylonians had an advanced number system, in some ways more advanced than our present system. It was a positional system with base 60 rather than the base 10 of our present system. Now 10 has only two proper divisors, 2 and 5. However 60 has 10 proper divisors so many more numbers have a finite form.

The Babylonians divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This form of counting has survived for 4000 years.