2 Hands—10 Fingers

“The prime motivation behind the power of 10 is that you can with some authority recite your list of laws, prophets or gods as you tick off each of your ten fingers from a pair of hands, So the decision to decimate a rebel legion, to take tithe of a tenth of the harvest as tax or to rule for a decade seems logical, absolute, and ordained. The decimal system which now rules our numerical world, our wealth, our conception of time and distance derives from dekm—the Indo-Aryan word for ‘two hands,’ the power of ten.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

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