|From Chris Henke's India Photos|
The other point I find fascinating about the sites we have been seeing in Rajasthan are the signs of influence and transaction between Indian and other cultural systems of belief and knowledge. Perhaps the most interesting of these transactions is the invention of zero, which seems pretty obvious, but eluded European mathematicians until the fourteenth century. According to India scholar Thomas Trautmann, the idea of zero was conceived by the Indian astronomer Aryabhata, who lived circa 500CE. Though we often think of many of our modern mathematical concepts as coming from Muslim culture, Trautmann describes a movement between Indian and Islamic scholars well before the advent of "globalization." Therefore, although we use the arabic name "algebra" for the use of variables to solve equations, Trautmann notes that Muslim scholars termed this method the "Indian reckoning."
Sources: Trautmann, Thomas R. 2011. India: Brief History of a Civilization. Oxford. See especially Chapter Seven.
Via YouTube: My Hero, Zero