Things you didn’t know about ancient mathematics


Math is one of those subjects you either love or loathe, there is generally no middle ground. Personally, we dig the black and white nature of math, as well as the way it allows us to improve problem-solving skills. For as long as there have been numbers math has existed as a way of keeping structure and organization. If you think about it, almost everything important in the world involves math in some way.

These days math is more important than ever and plays a pivotal role in business, the economy, and science. But, there are so many things we don’t know about mathematics, and, in particular, ancient mathematics. These are some of the coolest and most interesting things you (and we) never knew about ancient mathematics.

It was originally done with letters

Those Ancient Greeks, always bucking the trends right? Or maybe they invented the original trend, and then someone else came along and changed it? Who knows! Anyhow, these guys were some of the first to start using mathematics properly, only they did it with letters instead of numbers. They were considered skilled mathematicians, particularly in the field of geometry, which focused much more on logic, constants, and letters. The Greeks had numbers, of course, but those were also inspired by letters – much like Roman numerals.

It was light years ahead of its time

There were quite a few aspects of math that were light years ahead of their time. So much so that they weren’t applied or even understood until centuries later! A good example of this is Quaternions, which was discovered in 1843. This numbering pattern was used to study and describe the rotation of 3-dimensional objects. It was considered an impressive achievement, but largely useless in the world of mathematics. That was, of course, until 1985, when computer scientists began using Quaternions for digital animation! Amazing!

It affected time

You know, we’ve always wondered why there are 60 seconds in 1 minute, as opposed to 100, which you might expect. Using a base 10 decimal math system, you would expect there not to be 60 seconds in one minute, so why is there? Well, the answer lies with the Ancient Babylonians. These guys actually used a sexagesimal form of math, with a base of 60. This is the reason why time is measured with 60 seconds to a minute, and 360 degrees in a circle. It’s amazing to think that one civilization could have had such an impact on the way the entire world views and measures time.

As you can see, there are some amazing facts that we never knew about mathematics back in ancient times. There are also plenty of more recent facts we never knew either, and math actually has a fascinating history and backstory. Math is so useful that we can’t conceive of a scenario in daily life in which we wouldn’t need to use it. We hope you have found these cool facts interesting, and that it’s made you want to take more of an interest in math.