If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability. The abacus, with its beads strung on parallel wires, led the Arabs to positional numeration and the concept of zero many centuries before the rest of the world; and it was a useful tool so useful that it still exists.
An insight into Egyptian methods of numeration was obtained through the ingenious deciphering of the hieroglyphics by Champollion , Young , and their successors. ...The symbol for 1 represents a vertical staff, that for 10,000 a pointing finger, that for 100,000 a burbot , that for 1,000,000 a man in astonishment.