(And the two part key)

To create a record that represented “two sheep”, they selected two round clay tokens each having a + sign baked into it. Each token represented one sheep. Representing a hundred sheep with a hundred tokens would be impractical, so they invented different clay tokens to represent different numbers of each specific commodity, and by 4000 BC strung the tokens like beads on a string.[7] There was a token for one sheep, a different token for ten sheep, a different token for ten goats, etc. Thirty-two sheep would be represented by three ten-sheep tokens followed on the string by two one-sheep tokens.

To ensure that nobody could alter the number and type of tokens, they invented a clay envelope shaped like a hollow ball into which the tokens on a string were placed, sealed, and baked. If anybody disputed the number, they could break open the clay envelope and do a recount. To avoid unnecessary damage to the record, they pressed archaic number signs and witness seals on the outside of the envelope before it was baked, each sign similar in shape to the tokens they represented. Since there was seldom any need to break open the envelope, the signs on the outside became the first written language for writing numbers in clay. An alternative method was to seal the knot in each string of tokens with a solid oblong bulla of clay having impressed symbols, while the string of tokens dangled outside of the bulla.[8]

Beginning about 3500 BC the tokens and envelopes were replaced by numerals impressed with a round stylus at different angles in flat clay tablets which were then baked.[9] A sharp stylus was used to carve pictographs representing various tokens. Each sign represented both the commodity being counted and the quantity or volume of that commodity.

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