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Sacred Number

35 34 BaBylon, suMer, and egyPT early number systems Around 3000 BC the Sumerians developed the earliest writing we know of and with it a base60 number system see page 48. A particularly useful number, 60 is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Working in base60 gives number patterns different from our modern base10 system a Sumerian clay tablet impressed with a cuneiform, wedgeshaped, stylus shows the 36 times table opposite. Their base60 system survives today as our measure ment of cycles and circles with 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, or degree, and 6 x 60 360 degrees in a circle. Ancient Egyptian numerals were made of characters standing for 1, 10, 100, and so on. An example of Egyptian arithmetic is their method of multiplication, which uses repeated doubling followed by selective addition to find the answer. The ancient vision of number is a musical one in which every number inverts in the mirror of Unity, two becoming a half, three becoming a third, and so on. In base60 this reciprocation is especially beautiful, as all multiples of 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 become simple fractions. For example 15 becomes a quarter. The Babylonians inherited and used this system to invoke their gods. Egyptian fractions used a mouth heiroglyph below, while fractions of volume were represented using the Eye of Horus.
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