Quote:
Originally Posted by Minderwiz
One last point. back on the topic. We are assuming that the zodiac had 12 clear constellations which determined it's number of signs. It's also possible to argue that the number system used by the Babylonians  based on 60, was itself derived from preSumerian systems of counting based on 12 and 5.
That is the Babylonians took 12 signs because it fitted their numeral preconceptions, rather than because of 12 clear constellations. They then named the signs conveniently after constellations. The base of 12 in turn is likely to be based on the number of lunations in a year.
OK I know it's not precisely 12 lunations, but then the first stabs at measuring a 'year' could well have been on the basis of counting lunations and later generations refined it to our current state of knowledge.
If the above conjecture is correct then we might have had a 10 sign Zodiac if the Babylonians had used a decimal system or an 8 sign Zodiac if the Babylonians had used the octal system (indeed I have seen references to an 8 sign zodiac!)

Right on Mindy!
Try this; count to 25 using fingers. After 10 how does one keep track? On toes?
Now try not counting the thumb but using the thumb as the counter and press the thumb of the right hand on the index finger end 1, then the second part of the finger 2 and so on, one can count to 12 on one hand one dozen. The groups of 12 or dozens are maked as before but on the left hand and so on giving a counting system of 12 in 4 stages of 3 (12, 4 , 3 remind you of anything) up to 144.
(Also I can hold my hands up to signal say ... 138 in one gesture, you cant do that by using fingers to count to 10. Perhaps some people found base 12 easier to work with?
Oh of course and as usuall I cant site reference or proof for my wacky ideas