The second [Babylonian] tablet records the magnitude of the illuminated portion of the moon's disc for every day from new to full moon, the whole disc being assumed to consist of 240 parts. ...This table not only exhibits the use of the sexagesimal system but also indicates the acquaintance of the Babylonians with [ geometric and arithmetic ] progressions.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that in the [Babylonian] sexagesimal notation of integers the "principle of position" was employed. Thus in 1.4 (=64)... The introduction of this principle at so early a date is the more remarkable, because in the decimal notation it was not introduced till about the fifth or sixth century after Christ.
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.
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