Sexagesimal Number System

“The number 3600 was written in Sumerian as a large circle. The epithet for the planet also meant ‘a perfect circle’ or ‘a completed cycle’. It also meant the number 3600.”

Zecharia Sitchin, The 12th Planet


Sexagesimal, also known as base 60 or sexagenary, is a numeral system with sixty as its base. It originated with the ancient Sumerians in the 3rd millennium BC, was passed down to the ancient Babylonians, and is still used—in a modified form—for measuring time, angles, and geographic coordinates.

When was sexagesimal invented?

Developed around 3100 B.C., the sexagesimal system, as it is known, has fallen out of favor but is still used (with slight adjustments) to measure time and angles. Most modern societies use the base-10 system (also called decimal) of Hindu-Arabic numerals.

Where did the Babylonian number system originated from?

The Babylonian number system began with tally marks just as most of the ancient math systems did. The Babylonians developed a form of writing based on cuneiform. Cuneiform means “wedge shape” in Latin. They wrote these symbols on wet clay tablets which were baked in the hot sun.

The 59 digits of the Babylonian number system used in ancient Mesopotamia. Although it is a base 60 system, it has a sub-base of 10, making the numbers fairly easy to interpret without extensive cuneiform experience. Credit: Sugarfish Wikimedia

Who used the Babylonian number system?

The Babylonians, who were famous for their astronomical observations, as well as their calculations (aided by their invention of the abacus), used a sexagesimal (base-60) positional numeral system inherited from either the Sumerian or the Eblaite civilizations.

How does a sexagesimal system work?

The sexagesimal system was an ancient system of counting, calculation, and numerical notation that used powers of 60 much as the decimal system uses powers of 10. Rudiments of the ancient system survive in vestigial form in our division of the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds. 1


1 “Who Made Sexagesimal System? Explained By FAQ Blog”. 2022. Faq-Blog.Com.

Additional Reading

Lamb, Evelyn. 2014. “Ancient Babylonian Number System Had No Zero”. Scientific American Blog Network.

Lamb, Evelyn. 2017. “The Joy Of Sexagesimal Floating-Point Arithmetic”. Scientific American Blog Network.

Lombardi, Michael A. 2007. “Why Is A Minute Divided Into 60 Seconds, An Hour Into 60 Minutes, Yet There Are Only 24 Hours In A Day?” Scientific American.

“Research Guides: Cartographic Resources For Genealogical Research: Eastern Europe And Russia: Latitude And Longitude”. 2022.

“Sexagesimal – Wikipedia”. 2022.

“Systems Of Measuring Angles”. 2022. onlinemath4all.

“Units Of Longitude And Latitude – Basic Coordinates And Seasons – NAAP”. 2022.

⭐ “Why Did Sumerians Use The Sexagesimal System? | Nagaitoshiya.Com”. 2013.


Babylonians base 60
Sexagesimal System of Angle Measurement |Trigonometry | Math Dot Com

Sexagesimal system is a system of angle measurement in degrees, minutes and seconds. It is a system of base 60.

Measurement of angles in trigonometric || Sexagesimal ,centesimal and circular system

This video discusses about three types of the measurement of angles in trigonometric – sexagesimal or degree unit system, centesimal or grade unit system, and circular or radian unit system.

Sexagesimal system
Time in Base 60: Why time is measured using 60
Part 7 – Convert Radian to Sexagesimal

⭐ I suggest that you read the entire reference. Other references can be read in their entirety but I leave that up to you.

Website Powered by

Up ↑