Bakhshali manuscript, an early Indian mathematical treatise

Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

The concept of ‘zero’ has been around a lot longer than we thought

The idea of “zero,” a number that represents nothingness and is crucial to mathematics, may be much older than scholars believed, The Guardian reports. Researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom used radiocarbon dating to analyze the Bakhshali manuscript, an ancient Indian text that contains hundreds of zeroes, and found that it dates to the third or fourth century, some 500 years earlier than initially thought. This makes it the earliest recorded origin of the “zero” symbol as we know it. 

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