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Why did ancient cultures, such as the Mesopotamians, use sexagesimal (base-60)? I've been doing some reading on this, and there seems to be no consensus. Of course, it's rare that there's perfect consensus in archaeology and ancient history, but, as I see it, the answer is wildly different depending upon which author you consult.

Do we have any sense of why base-60 was chosen? It seems like such an oddly large base to choose (even if it was more of a 'fusion' of base-10 and base-60). Why not something smaller and 'countable'?

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In a era when decimal numbers didn't exist, but fractions did, 60 has many factors: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, 30 and 60. The factors of 10 are: 1, 2, 5 and 10.

When dividing quantities into smaller units it is easier and more useful to be able to divide them into the smaller quantities if a base of 60 is used instead of 10.

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    Also, you can use your fingers to count. Use your thumb, and point your finger bone. You can count up to 12 (finger bone * 4 fingers). If you add one, put down one by going to the first finger bone, and carry one with one finger of the other hand. You have five fingers, 5*12 = 60 – Kepotx Sep 17 '20 at 6:48
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    @Kepotx, there's only one problem with your theory: the Mesopotamian sexagesimal system is based on 6*10, not 5*12. – Mark Sep 17 '20 at 19:53
  • Also, 360 is close to the number of days in a year. Not sure it was relevant though. – Andrew Shanks Jan 11 at 18:55

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