The Path That the Decimal Number System Took From India to Medieval Europe

The path that the decimal number system took from India to medieval Europe

The history of the early development of the place value decimal number system is long, complicated and full of holes and I shan’t be dealing with it here. It also throws up some important and unanswered questions. The Babylonians developed a place value number system as early as the beginning of the second millennium BCE but it was a sexagesimal or base sixty number system rather than a decimal base ten one.

The Babylonian system even had a placeholder zero in its later versions. This poses the question whether the Indians got the idea of a place value system from the Babylonians but it is simply not known. The Chinese also had a place value decimal number system but whether the Chinese influenced the Indians, the Indians the Chinese or both developed their systems independently is also not known.