Saturday, August 07, 2010

The origin of the number 12

It seems that the origin of the number 7 for the seven days of a week is related to the shapes of the moon as invisible, full moon and the half moons. However, prior to that the moon must have gotten the attention of our ancestors.

It is hard to argue against the fact that at the dawn of our species women took care of the children. They had to learn to save food for winter, for instance. The arrival of seasons and their duration is not the same on all parts of our planet, nor it is necessarily precise enough at any one location. On the other hand, the cycles of the moon are quite precise.

Consider a woman that has her period at about the same time each month. She will see the moon reaching a particular shape every time she starts her period. Eventually she will also notice the relationship between the number of her periods and the seasons.

The mother is the first teacher. Since the boys do not have periods, a mother must have taught her children about the seasons by counting the cycles of the moon. It so happens that there are roughly twelve lunar months in each year.

While girls might have paid attention to counting their periods relative to the lunar cycles for protecting their children, boys might have paid more attention to the stars.

Anyway, the interesting question is whether the moon had to do anything with the frequency of periods of our first mothers, or this is just another lucky coincidence.