Is a Cambodian inscription the earliest record of the number zero?

K127. Source: Smithsonian 201411

A blurb for an upcoming book, Finding Zero, about the origins of the numeral ‘0’. It seems that the oldest inscriptional evidence thus far comes from a Khmer stele K127.

K127. Source: Smithsonian 201411
K127. Source: Smithsonian 201411

The Origin of the Number Zero
Smithsonian Magazine, December 2014

Found on a stone stele, it was documented in 1931 by a French scholar named George Coedès. Assigned the identifying label K-127, the inscription reads like a bill of sale and includes references to slaves, five pairs of oxen and sacks of white rice. Though some of the writing wasn’t deciphered, the inscription clearly bore the date 605 in an ancient calendar that began in the year A.D. 78. Its date was thus A.D. 683. Two centuries older than the one at Gwalior, it predated wide-ranging Arab trade. But K-127 disappeared during the Khmer Rouge’s rule of terror, when more than 10,000 artifacts were deliberately destroyed.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/origin-number-zero-180953392/#Ic9h9STffHB8Xiif.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Full story here.

Related Posts

Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *