# Mythology Numbers

James Nienhuis' intriguing book Ice Age Civilizations has a startling revelation for you. The numbers that appear in ancient myths and legends around the world are not random – they derive from an advanced knowledge of astronomy.

The Sumerians developed the earliest known mathematical system, and the Babylonians later adopted it. It was a sexegesimal (base 60) system, which means it featured key numbers that were either factors or multiples of 60. This is the system that set 360 degrees in a circle, 60 minutes in a degree, and 60 seconds in a minute – and 12 hours in a day and 12 hours in a night.

The Earth’s axis is tilted and, like a spinning top or gyroscope, is slowly and continuously changing its orientation, causing an imaginary line extended from the pole to trace a circular path. One complete tracing of the path is known as a Great Year and takes an estimated 25,772 years to complete.

To an observer on Earth, the stars’ positions in the sky shift almost imperceptibly with each passing year. Over the course of about 72 years, the stars and constellations change their locations by about one degree. Over the course of a Great Year, however, they go full circle – the zodiac constellations appear to move backwards one by one through a fixed point in the sky until the cycle begins anew. This is known as precession.

Likewise, because the the Earth’s axis points in an ever-changing direction over time, different stars become the “pole star” as the centuries pass.

We do not know how the ancients managed to figure all this out, but they did. And in case you think they did not, just look at their myths, legends, and more. That is what Nienhuis' book does. (Take a deep breath and get ready for a wild ride.)

The ancients knew about the Great Year, and whether or not they were aware its actual length is 25,772 years, they chose to go with 25,920 years, because one degree every 72 years multiplied by 360 degrees in a circle equals 25,920. Remember that number – 25,920.

Hindu cosmology divides time into cyclic ages known as Yuga Cycles. A Yuga Cycle is 4,320,000 years in length and comprises four yugas (world ages), each of which is some multiple of 432,000 years. Is there something special about multiples of 432? Yes! 4,320 is exactly one-sixth of 25,920, and 43,200 x 2 = 86,400 (the number of seconds in a day). And the height of the Great Pyramid is exactly – and we mean exactly – 1/43,200 the polar radius of the Earth.

Norse legend describes the ultimate battle between Valhalla’s gods of order and the evil Wolf’s gods of disorder. Valhalla’s gods emerge from 540 doors, 800 gods through each door. 540 x 800 = 432,000. Meanwhile, half a world away, the Rig Veda, one of Hinduism’s four sacred canonical texts, contains how many syllables in total? You guessed it – 432,000.

25,920 divided by 360 degrees equals 72, another "magical" number that appears prominently in the myths, legends, and works of different cultures. In Egypt, Osiris was done in by 72 conspirators. 72 columns surround the ruins of Iran’s ancient Apadana palace. 72 statues of Buddha encircle the central dome of Indonesia’s Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple. And last but not least, the ancient Mayans established a period of time known as a K’atun, which was exactly 7,200 days in length.