The first written figures, about which we have reliable evidence, appeared in Egypt and Mesopotamia about 5000 years ago. Although these two cultures were very far apart, their numerical systems are very similar, as if they represent one method:
The use of serifs on a tree or a stone to record past days.
Egyptian priests wrote on papyrus, made from the stems of certain varieties of reeds, and in Mesopotamia – on soft clay. Of course, the specific forms of their figures were different, but in both cultures used simple dashes for units and other labels for tens and higher orders. In addition, both systems wrote the desired digit, repeating the lines and labels the required number of times.
The word “figure” came from the name of zero from the Arabs. In Russia, the word “figure” for a long time meant zero.
What figures were used in Mesopotamia?
The first samples of the letter appeared around the third millennium before Christ and are characterized by the use of stylized symbols to represent certain objects and ideas. Gradually, these signs took more complex forms. In Mesopotamia, a “tick down” could mean a unit, and could be repeated 9 times to represent numbers from 1 to 9. The “left tick” sign was 10 and could, in combination with the units, represent numbers from 11 to 59. To represent the number 60, use the sign units, but in a different position. For numbers over 70, the symbols mentioned above are used in various combinations. In the old Babylonian texts, dated 1700 BC. there is no special sign, designated zero, for its designation there simply left an empty space, more and less allocated.
The ancient Egyptians were convinced that the comprehension of the sacred science of numbers is one of the highest stages of hermetic action, without it there can be no initiation.
The Chinese have odd numbers – Yang (sky, immutability and auspiciousness), even numbers – yin (earth, variability and unfavorability), that is, odd numbers represent the masculine, even – feminine.
Oddness symbolizes incompleteness, an unending process, a constant proposal, that is, all that has no end, belong to the realm of the eternal. Therefore, in an ornament, in the taming of architectural or sculptural structures, an odd number of features or elements are usually used. It is customary to give an odd number of flowers to the festival, and even to bring it to the cemetery. “Victims of the gods of heaven – the number of odd, and the earthly even” (Plutarch).
History of zero.
On the wall inscriptions in India in the IX century AD. The zero character is first encountered at the end of a number. This is the first generally accepted designation of the modern zero sign. It was Indian mathematicians who invented zero in all its three senses. For example, the Indian mathematician Brahmagupta as early as the 7th century AD. actively began to use negative numbers and actions with zero. But he argued that the number divided by zero is zero, which is certainly a mistake, but a real mathematical impertinence that led to another remarkable discovery of Indian mathematicians. And in the XII century another Indian mathematician Bhaskara makes another attempt to understand what will happen when dividing by zero. He writes: “The number divided by zero becomes a fraction, the denominator of which is 0. This fraction is called infinity”