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Why most of the things are in multiples of 12 ?

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Degrees, Hours, Minutes and Seconds. All of them are in multiples of 12. What is so unique in twelve that we are using 360 Degrees, 24 Hours, 60 Minutes in an hour, 60 Seconds in a minute and 12 inches in a feet. We could have used metric system in these things as well, as we used in Weight and Length measurement systems around the world.

Sumerians were the first people to use Sexagesimal (base 60) numeral system around 3000 BC. They divided the circle in 360 degrees, the year into 12 months, day into 24 hours, hours into 60 minutes, and minutes into 60 seconds. Further this knowledge was passed to ancient Babylonians.
But still the question remains that what was so important with number 12.
Duodecimal system (also as dozenal) is a numeral system with base number twelve.

Why most of the things are in multiples of 12 ?

  • The best explanation to this question is the duration of year. One cycle of Sun (which is one year) is approximately equal to 12 cycles of Moon (Lunar Month). It is the reason behind 12 months in a year. It can also be considered as a solid reason behind importance of this number in old number systems.
  • Number 12 is convenient in terms of mathematics. It is a small number with most number of divisors. Number 12 is divisible by 1,2,3,4 and 6. In ancient times it would have been easier to do calculations in duodecimal system without going for decimal values.
  • Number 12 can be counted just by using one hand. You can use your thumb to count three segments of each finger (3 x 4 = 12). So by using two hands, you can count up to 144.
  • There are 12 openings/gates in body of man - 2 Eyes, 2 Ears, 2 Nostrils, 1 Mouth, 2 nipples, 1 navel, 1 anus and 1 urethra. 

Religious Importance of 12

Some of the most important discoveries of ancient times became a part of our religions. Nobody know if these are made intentionally of it just occurred in that way.
  • Greek people had 12 Gods of Pantheon.
  • Odin, the Norse God, had 12 sons.
  • Biblical figure of Jacob also had 12 sons.
  • Twelve commandments were given to Moses by God.
  • 12 Jyotirlings (holy sites of Lord Shiva) in Hinduism.
  • According to Buddhism there are 12 causes of existence called Nidanas.
  • There are 12 zodiac signs, or 12 major constellations.
  • There are 12 apostles of the Christ.
  • 12 disciples chosen by Mahomet.
  • 12 disciples of Confucius.
  • 12 disciples of Mithra.
  • 12 descendants of Ali.
  • 12 companions of Odin.
Due to no common number system merchants cheated a lot to make profit. After French revolution, in year 1795,  metric system was made compulsory for every merchant and common public to get rid of such cheating. Even a day was announced to be of 10 long hours, with each long hour of 100 decimal minutes, and then 100 decimal seconds. But that system lasted for 10 years only. However metric system became popular for Weight and Length, but not for time and degrees.

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