## Numerals and Numerology

The Sumerians were perhaps the first people to decipher the basics of mathematics. They worked in base 60 - a sexagesimal system. This is the origin of our 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute, and 360 (6*60) degrees in a circle.

The origins of the Sumerian numeral system lie in a system of tokens used to count commodities. Later, the symbols on these tokens were embossed into clay using a round stylus, and eventually these symbols were adopted so they could be embossed using the regular reed stylus used to write other cuneiform signs.

The Sumerian numeral system differs from the perhaps better known Babylonian one in that Sumerian has different symbols for each place value. Like the Babylonian system, which it inspired, the Sumerian place values increase in alternating steps of x10 and x6: there are different symbols for 1, 10, 60, 600, 3600, 36000, and 216000, and other numbers are formed by combining groups of these symbols. This has the advantage over the later Babylonian system of ensuring total unambiguity over which number is meant to be written.

1: diš 𒁹

2: min 𒈫

3: eš 𒐈

4: limmu 𒐉 or 𒐼

5: ia 𒐊

6: aš 𒐋

7: imin 𒐌 or 𒑂 or 𒑃

8: ussu 𒐍 or 𒑄

9: ilimmu 𒐎 or 𒑆

10: u 𒌋

11: u-diš 𒌋𒁹

12: u-min 𒌋𒈫

20: niš 𒌋𒌋

21: niš-diš 𒌋𒌋𒁹

30: ušu 𒌍

40: nimin 𒐏

50: ninnu 𒐐

60: geš 𒐕 (note this stroke is thicker than diš 𒁹)

61: geš-diš 𒐕𒁹

70: geš-u 𒐕𒌋

71: geš-u-diš 𒐕𒌋𒁹

120: mingeš 𒐖

180: ešgeš 𒐗

240: limmugeš 𒐘

600: gešu 𒐞

1200: mingešu 𒐟

3600: šar 𒄭

7200: minšar 𒐣

36,000: ušar (ie, 10 šar) 𒐬

72,000: niššar 𒐭

216,000: geššar 𒄱 or 𒐲 (later šar-gal, “great šar”)

432,000: 𒐳 (pronunciation not known)

Numbers above 432,000 are unattested in ancient Sumerian (with one exception: 60*216,000 = 12,960,000, seen as a holy number from which all others derive). The Sumerians did not focus much on abstract mathematics and the populations of their cities were much lower than ours; they seldom needed to count 432,000 of anything.

The pronunciations of numbers above 60 are not written out in Sumerian and are uncertain; the above table is one reconstruction of how they may have been pronounced in early Sumerian.

In earlier texts, the ‘unit’ digits 1 through 9 were usually seen written horizontally; 𒀸, 𒐀, 𒐁 ... 𒑇. They continued to always be written horizontally when followed by a unit of measure.

Sumerian fractions are typically based on the denominator 6 and are as follows:

⅙: šuš 𒌋

⅓: min-šuš 𒑚

½: maš 𒑏

⅔: lam-šuš 𒑛

⅚: ia-šuš 𒑜

60 was seen as a number of wholeness and completion. 3600, which is 60*60, was the number of the universe, the totality of existence - both "3600" and "everything" translate as 𒄭

Some numbers are associated with gods, to the extent that they could stand in for a god's name in certain cases; 𒀭𒌋𒐊 (the "divine" determinative + "15") is for example considered a valid spelling for Inana. The most powerful and revered deities have numbers that are factors of 60, or that are in some way mathematically useful.

The presence of these numbers in a person's life, or repeatedly seeing the same numbers, could indicate that a deity is trying to communicate, or that the areas of life represented by that deity's domains are in need of attention.

The sacred numbers of primary deities are as follows:

60 or 1: An. This represents An's status as the ruler of the cosmos and the king of the gods.

50: Enlil. The Babylonians assigned this number to Marduk.

40: Enki.

30: Nanna.

20: Utu.

15: Inana.

10: Iškur.

7: Ereškigal.

5 or 55: Ninhursaĝ.

The origins of the Sumerian numeral system lie in a system of tokens used to count commodities. Later, the symbols on these tokens were embossed into clay using a round stylus, and eventually these symbols were adopted so they could be embossed using the regular reed stylus used to write other cuneiform signs.

The Sumerian numeral system differs from the perhaps better known Babylonian one in that Sumerian has different symbols for each place value. Like the Babylonian system, which it inspired, the Sumerian place values increase in alternating steps of x10 and x6: there are different symbols for 1, 10, 60, 600, 3600, 36000, and 216000, and other numbers are formed by combining groups of these symbols. This has the advantage over the later Babylonian system of ensuring total unambiguity over which number is meant to be written.

1: diš 𒁹

2: min 𒈫

3: eš 𒐈

4: limmu 𒐉 or 𒐼

5: ia 𒐊

6: aš 𒐋

7: imin 𒐌 or 𒑂 or 𒑃

8: ussu 𒐍 or 𒑄

9: ilimmu 𒐎 or 𒑆

10: u 𒌋

11: u-diš 𒌋𒁹

12: u-min 𒌋𒈫

20: niš 𒌋𒌋

21: niš-diš 𒌋𒌋𒁹

30: ušu 𒌍

40: nimin 𒐏

50: ninnu 𒐐

60: geš 𒐕 (note this stroke is thicker than diš 𒁹)

61: geš-diš 𒐕𒁹

70: geš-u 𒐕𒌋

71: geš-u-diš 𒐕𒌋𒁹

120: mingeš 𒐖

180: ešgeš 𒐗

240: limmugeš 𒐘

600: gešu 𒐞

1200: mingešu 𒐟

3600: šar 𒄭

7200: minšar 𒐣

36,000: ušar (ie, 10 šar) 𒐬

72,000: niššar 𒐭

216,000: geššar 𒄱 or 𒐲 (later šar-gal, “great šar”)

432,000: 𒐳 (pronunciation not known)

Numbers above 432,000 are unattested in ancient Sumerian (with one exception: 60*216,000 = 12,960,000, seen as a holy number from which all others derive). The Sumerians did not focus much on abstract mathematics and the populations of their cities were much lower than ours; they seldom needed to count 432,000 of anything.

The pronunciations of numbers above 60 are not written out in Sumerian and are uncertain; the above table is one reconstruction of how they may have been pronounced in early Sumerian.

In earlier texts, the ‘unit’ digits 1 through 9 were usually seen written horizontally; 𒀸, 𒐀, 𒐁 ... 𒑇. They continued to always be written horizontally when followed by a unit of measure.

Sumerian fractions are typically based on the denominator 6 and are as follows:

⅙: šuš 𒌋

⅓: min-šuš 𒑚

½: maš 𒑏

⅔: lam-šuš 𒑛

⅚: ia-šuš 𒑜

60 was seen as a number of wholeness and completion. 3600, which is 60*60, was the number of the universe, the totality of existence - both "3600" and "everything" translate as 𒄭

*šar*.Some numbers are associated with gods, to the extent that they could stand in for a god's name in certain cases; 𒀭𒌋𒐊 (the "divine" determinative + "15") is for example considered a valid spelling for Inana. The most powerful and revered deities have numbers that are factors of 60, or that are in some way mathematically useful.

The presence of these numbers in a person's life, or repeatedly seeing the same numbers, could indicate that a deity is trying to communicate, or that the areas of life represented by that deity's domains are in need of attention.

The sacred numbers of primary deities are as follows:

60 or 1: An. This represents An's status as the ruler of the cosmos and the king of the gods.

50: Enlil. The Babylonians assigned this number to Marduk.

40: Enki.

30: Nanna.

20: Utu.

15: Inana.

10: Iškur.

7: Ereškigal.

5 or 55: Ninhursaĝ.