Babylonian number system

The Babylonian civilization was located in what is now Iraq. They were great mathematicians and astronomers.

This numbering system appeared around 1800 BC. It is a positional number system, that is, the value of a symbol depends on its position in the number. It is a base sixty system, that is, they had symbols for the numbers from 1 to 59, although they only used two symbols to write all those numbers:

To write numbers larger than 59, each symbol was 60 times larger than the previous symbol, that is,

The Babylonians did not have the concept of zero as we know it today, but they did have a symbol that they used to indicate that an intermediate order was missing in a number.

Activity 5: Write the following numbers in our number system

Check your answers.

Activity 6: Write the following numbers in the Babylonian system.

  • 45
  • 126
  • 251

Check your answers.

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