Paola Marras – 1000: Number 8 And The Lotus Flower


A shift from the binary to the Egyptian system

Why 1000?

The number 8 is the first binary number with 4 numeric digits and in the binary system it’s written 1000 and read “One – Zero – Zero – Zero”.

Eight is the number of petals of the lotus flower, a symbol of rebirth in various traditions and easily connected also to the values of the eighth astrological house.

It is curious and interesting to note that, in the Egyptian system, the symbol of lotus flower is associated with the number 1,000 (one thousand), that is the 8 of the binary system.

Is it a coincidence? Egyptians knew binary numbers

Through an exposure and analysis of the binary and the Egyptian system we find out the connection between these fascinating and mysterious symbols associated with the number 8.

What is the binary system?

The binary system is a numbering system, often used especially in information technology. The invention of the binary system is attributed to the mathematical philosopher Leibniz in the second half of 1600s.

I’ll not give you a detailed math lesson but I will explain in a very elementary way the switch from decimal numbers to binary numbers.

We usually use the decimal numbering system, with 10 symbols:


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


which are used for the creation of any number of any digit.

In the binary system are instead used only two symbols:

0 1

which are used for the creation of any number of any digit.

The shift from a decimal to a binary number occurs through the division of the number by 2, to obtain zero as quotient, and the use of the remains. It takes place in this exact way.

Divide the number by 2 until you get to have 0.

Let me give you an example with the number 21:

21 on decimal base = X on binary base


21/2 = 10 with the remains of 1

10/2 = 5 with the remains of 0

5/2 = 2 with the remains of 1

2/2 = 1 with the remains of 0

1/2 = 0 with the remains of 1


Consequently 21 on decimal base = 10101 on binary base (it is read from the bottom upwards).

If you do the same exercise for the number 8 you find that:


8/2 = 4 with the remains of 0

4/2 = 2 with the remains of 0

2/2 = 1 with the remains of 0

1/2 = 0 with the remains of 1


Follows that:

8 (decimal) = 1000 (binary)

It ‘also very interesting switching from binary to decimal, but this is not the place to explain it.

For those who did not understand the shift from decimal to binary, here is a small table with numbers in decimal and binary equivalent base:

After clarifying the equivalence between the number 8 and the number 1000, pass to the symbolism of the number 8.

Among the various symbols associated with this issue, one of the most attractive is the lotus flower with its 8 petals.

We can think to associate the number 8 also to the cult of the Sun. Around 3000 BC the predynastic Egyptians paid tribute to the sun during the funerary practices. The dead were buried with their heads facing west, where the sun dies every day.

The veneration of of the sun was also an ancient Chinese tradition. sun symbols were discovered in Neolithic Da-Wen Kou-culture (4000-2000 B.C.) in eastern China. A typical example is the image of the sun with 8 horns.

In 1500 BC Aryans (venerators of the sun), in their descent from Central Asia to the Indus Valley, brought with them the veneration of of the sun represented by the lotus flower with 8 petals.

In this cult of the Sun there is a clear reference to the symbol of death and rebirth of the eighth astrological house and the sign of Scorpio.

The lotus flower is really easy to connect to the Eighth House values. It is the heraldic plant of Upper Egypt. In ancient times the lotus flower was a symbol linked to the rebirth, the sun and eternal life. Symbols of many amulets, according to the ancient Egyptians, kept off evil; attracting good. The lotus flower, according to some legends associated with creating, was the first flower to be born from the primordial chaos. At Heliopolis the legend tells that the flower, born from the ocean mud Nun, bloomed revealing the god of the Sun Atum. Also the divinity Nefertum was created from this flower and from her tears were born men. The lotus is a highly symbolic flower for the ancient Egyptian civilization.

What in the Orient is the lotus, in the Occident is the Rose. For beauty, shape and scent, the rose is the symbolic flower most prevalent in the Occident. The Feast of Roses (Rosalia) is part of the cult of the ancient Romans dead and there are testimonials as early as the first century A.D.

Even in Greece, the rose was much appreciated. The wind rose, which means first of all the four directions, was soon made with the shape of a star with 32 tips corresponding to the 32 wind directions on the compass of the sailors and evokes the lotus with 8 petals.

So, in summary:

1000 on the binary system = 8   simbology of lotus flower

In Egypt the lotus flower was so important as to use it as a hieroglyph to represent a number: the number 1000.

May be a coincidence? Egyptians knew the binary numbers?

The first written numbers of civilization of the Egyptians are identified on monuments and inscriptions dating to the early third millennium B.C. .. They were inscriptions that made use of the hieroglyphic system, the monumental Egyptian writing. In hieroglyphic system to the numbers are reserved seven distinct signs:

These symbols correspond to increasing powers of 10 and respectively to the values: 1 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000

Apparently, the origin of the symbols is not known. Some are easy to identify and can be linked to significant objects, on others the hypotheses are more uncertain.

The shapes are those of:

  • A stick or short length of rope
  • A stick or rope bent in the shape of inverted “U”
  • A coiled spiral rope
  • A lotus flower in bloom
  • a finger
  • A tadpole in metamorphosis
  • A man kneeling with his arms raised to the sky


  • The rope was a tool commonly used by the Egyptians to measure the fields.
  • The lotus flowers were growing numerous on the banks of the Nile and there it was possible to see the tadpoles in metamorphosis.
  • The finger could be the sign of a count by hand.
  • The man who bows before the immensity could indicate the greatest value that the Egyptians represented.


According to other theories the origin of the symbols might be linked to phonetic issues.

In the earliest representations, symbols do not have a predetermined order. This is very interesting if you want to think that the lotus flower is also associated with the number 8. As time passed, they have assumed recurring provisions.

We should enter even better in the detail of the numbers and their representation.

The writing system of numbers with hieroglyphs is a Decimal-based system. Each symbol corresponds to 10 low-order symbols. In other words, each of the seven symbols used corresponds to a rising of the 10 power.

Let us reflect on the lotus flower, because it is that interests us mainly.

It corresponds to 10³. But we assume to replace the base 10 with the base 2 (remembering that we are in base 2 in the binary system). Instead of 10³ it has so 2³ namely 8, the lotus flower.

Having found this correspondence, we immediately think if, by replacing the 2 also for the other symbols, there are similarities between number in base 10 and number in base 2. The following assumptions are born from my intuition and curiosity, and as such should be taken.

The number 1 is 1, both in base 10 both in base 2 because it is as if there were 0 for power, and for any number with 0 power you have 1 as result. Therefore the stick remains connected to 1.

The rope bent in the shape of “U” turned upside down is 10 in base 10 and 2 in base 2. In this case the 2 seems fairly representative of an image with 2 ends facing downwards. Indeed, it almost seems easier to associate the image to 2 than to 10.

The spiral is 100 in base 10, and 4 in base 2. How can we connect the spiral to the number 4? 4 are the fundamental elements of the human body, namely carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, the elements that form the SPIRAL of DNA, which contains stored the code of life.

The finger is 10000 in base 10 and 16 in base 2. In any case, the power of 10 and 2 is 4. The Egyptians used hands to count. If we use a hand to count up to 16, we find that it is one finger. This is obviously a hypothesis and that should be taken.

The tadpole in metamorphosis is 100000 in base 10, and 32 in in base 2. In the book “Elements of Natural Historical” by Nathanael Gottfried Leske, it is written that the transformation of the tadpole begins in the first 32 days. In fact, “after eight days he appears from his head certain fin like appendages, which disappear after 14 days; meanwhile grows the tail, and the body becomes thicker after 10 “. So 8 + 14 + 10 = 32.

Finally the man kneeling with his arms raised to the sky is 1000000 in base 10 and 64 in base 2. The number 64 makes us immediately think of the famous Eye of Horus history.

The sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb generated Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. Osiris and Isis were recognized as very important deity for the Egyptian civilization. Horus was born from their love. Seth instead, evil and jealous, murdered his brother Osiris and Horus fought with him just to avenge this murder. In combat, Seth tore an eye to Horus, breaking it in six pieces that were scattered everywhere. The image of the eye is the following:

The Eye of Horus pieces were returned by the god / magician Toth (also considered the god of mathematics), who made a complete eye with his powerful magic. At each part of the eye of Horus corresponds a fraction and these fractions were used to mark the triumph of good over evil.

The sum of 6 fractions is 63/64 and, according to legend, the 1/64 missing to achieve the perfect unity is invisible and was added by the powerful god Thoth.

What we are interested in is to understood the number 64 as the completeness of the whole and, also in this case, the calculation makes sense.

So we can associate the number 8 not only to the lotus flower, which should be 1000, but we can associate the same number expressed in base 2 (binary) rather than in base 10 (decimal) also to other symbols used by the Egyptians.

Obviously it has no assurance that these assumptions are the ones that have pushed Egyptians to choose those symbols. But we are sure of something else:

The Egyptians knew the binary system!

In an article published in La Repubblica, entitled “The Isis” computers and the numbers grew, the mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi writes that the Egyptians did not, however, account in the decimal system that we learn right from primary school. They used instead the binary system of computers modern, three thousand years before Leibniz believed to have invented it in 1679.

My relationship so ends with a question: are we really sure that the Egyptians with lotus would indicate the number 1000 and not the number 8? Maybe…



  •  Fondamenti di Informatica, McGraw Hill
  • Rivista Mediterraneo Antico –
  • Il Culto del Sole –
  • Dizionario dei Simboli, J. Chevalier – A. Gheebrant
  • Il Loto e la Rosa –
  • Quando l’uomo ha imparato a contare – Il giardino di Archimede –
  • L’Uomo e lo Zodiaco – Francesco e Luana Monte
  • Elementi di Storica Naturale v.2 – Nathanael Gottfried Leske
  • All’inizio fu lo scriba – Ana Millán Gasca


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