In the later nineteenth century, the tops of skyscrapers often took the shape of domes, surmounted by jaunty gilded lanterns; later came ziggurats, mausoleums, Alexandrian lighthouses, miniature Parthenons. These charming follies contained neither royal corpses nor effigies of gods and goddesses; rather they contained large wooden tanks filled with water.
Europe was darkened at sunset, Cordova shone with public lamps; Europe was dirty, Cordova built a thousand baths; Europe was covered with vermine, Cordova changed its undergarments daily; Europe lay in mud, Cordovas streets were paved; Europes palaces had smoke-holes in the ceiling, Cordovas arabesques were exquisite; Europes nobility could not sign its name, Cordovas children went to school; Europes monks could not read the baptismal service, Cordovas teachers created a library of Alexandrian dimensions.
The sexagesimal system was used also in fractions. Thus, in the Babylonian inscriptions, 1/2 and 1/3 are designated by 30 and 20, the reader being expected, in his mind, to supply the word "sixtieths." The Greek geometer Hypsicles and the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemæus borrowed the sexagesimal notation of fractions from the Babylonians and introduced it into Greece. From that time sexagesimal fractions held almost full sway in astronomical and mathematical calculations until the sixteenth century, when they finally yielded their place to the decimal fractions.