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Chinese Number SystemChinese Number System : In 1899 a major discovery was made at the archaeological site at the village of Xiao dun in the Anyang district of Henan province. Thousands of bones and tortoise shells were discovered there which had been inscribed with ancient Chinese Numbers. The site had been the capital of the kings of the Late Shang dynasty (this Late Shang is also called the Yin) from the 14th century BC. The last twelve of the Shang kings ruled here until about 1045 BC and the bones and tortoise shells discovered there had been used as part of religious ceremonies. Questions were inscribed on one side of a tortoise shell, the other side of the shell was then subjected to the heat of a fire, and the cracks which appeared were interpreted as the answers to the questions coming from ancient ancestors.The importance of these finds, as far as learning about the ancient Chinese numbers system, was that many of the inscriptions contained numerical information about men lost in battle, prisoners taken in battle, the number of sacrifices made, the number of animals killed on hunts, the number of days or months, etc. The number system which was used to express this numerical information was based on the decimal system and was both additive and multiplicative in nature.
Example : 1) 30 = 三十 2)45 = 四十五 3) 135 = 百三十五 4) 184 = 百八十四 5) 578 = 五百七十八 6) 1126 = 一千一百二十六 Home Page
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