63

I believe it to be an euphemism similar to how today one might say something like gazillions for a large number. In a society that is mostly innumerate as well as illiterate, where neither pencils nor paper exist and both slateboards and chalk are fragile and rare, the scale of numbers readily accessible to the common population are much smaller than today. ...


61

There seems to be a bit of pushback on Pieter's (correct) answer, so perhaps a bit more detail is in order. It is not at all uncommon in languages to have words that, while technically a specific number, are usually used just to indicate an unspecified large amount. One of the technical terms for this is non-numerical vague quantifiers. The most well-known ...


11

Biblically, Forty is a number associated with testing and trials https://www.thoughtco.com/biblical-numerology-700168 Jesus wandered in the wilderness 40 days, Israel wandered in the desert for 40 years etc. It's a number that indicates enough time passed for God to achieve a goal. Fullness of time.


10

I know this would not be to OP's liking (considering his expressed opinion of Chinese history), but other people might find this interesting. The earliest event in Chinese history with a verifiable year is the Interregnum following the expulsion of King Li from the Zhou Kingdom. With the king exiled, his chief ministers ruled the realm in his stead. They ...


7

Motivation for the answer I'll take a literary approach, aiming less at the surrounding historical context and more at an internal analysis of what "significance" the document's authors intended to convey. However, rereading your question and David Robinson's comment, I see that you're not asking about this significance so much as the motivation to use "40"...


7

Most folks are used to positional numbers meaning they have a position to indicate the number of ones, the number of tens, the number of hundreds, and so on. The common Hindu-Arabic numerals are positional. "102" is one hundred plus zero tens plus two ones. You can see why a zero is necessary. Otherwise "12" could be "one hundred and two" or "ten and two (...


7

There are lots of documents in Sumerian and Akkadian with precise dates mentioned in the documents themselves. These go back well into the 3rd millennium BC. These can be converted without difficulty into Julian or Gregorian dates. But of course, all this depends on what you mean by “events”. If you include astronomical events visible on earth (eclipses, ...


7

At the time when the so-called Christian era was introduced, the mathematical concept of zero was not known in Europe. Thus, the year before AD 1 is called 1 BC. However, in modern astronomical and mathematical usage “1 BC” is called the year “0”, “2 BC” is called “-1”, “3 BC” is called “-2”, etc. If you follow this convention you can carry out normal ...


5

In chronology there is no year 0. The first year is year 1. The year before that is year -1. The origin of a time system is called its epoch.


5

The use of glass in glazing to protect paintings would appear to date back to the mid 18th century: ...such was the interest in art from the mid eighteenth century, as expressed through attendance at exhibitions and academies, that the display of vulnerable old master and contemporary drawings, prints, pastels and watercolours became popular, by ...


4

Several techniques of art protection with glass predate the use of panes mounted in front of canvas. The Greeks protected both sides of delicate gold leaf designs with glass: Later, Orthodox Christians in Romania painted durable Christian icons on the reverse of glass panes, which can be hung in frames, protecting the artistic design:


3

There is no 'golden age of Christmas'. Christmas is an ancient religious as well as a secular festival. Part of it is religious, and part of it is secular. Going to church is the religious part, eat and be merry plus the gifts is the secular part. Christmas is somewhat differently celebrated in different countries. And it is celebrated somewhat differently ...


3

The base-10 Arabic number system you are using in your question also didn't exist back then. It couldn't have because, as you have noticed, the entire concept relies on having the concept of "0". The system was invented in India around 700 AD (not so coincidentally only about a generation after someone there discovered the concept of 0). A bit more than a ...


2

You are conflating the quantity or number zero, denoting none, with the numeral or symbol explicitly denoting the quantity of none, and represented in our Arabic Numeral system by '0' but also named zero. The significance of the symbol '0' is its utility as a placeholder when performing complex calculations on paper. Note that numeral systems prior to the ...


2

While looking up a map for a recent question I ran into Timemaps, which you might find interesting. It's interactive rather than a poster, and allows to zoom in and out of regions and countries, browse timelines forward and back, and read some details about what's going on. Example. They're a commercial venture run by historians, and seem to target the ...


1

Never. “The imaginary” is the general case of a particular cultural location or time commonly imagined by groups of people as a cultural phenomena. For example, much of “the Founding Fathers,” of the United States exist as a cultural imaginary barely related to the actual men involved: consider the cherry tree. A golden age of Christmas is such an ...


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