The history of this fundamental number is surprisingly intricate. Its roots can be traced back to ancient Babylon around 300 BCE, where a positional numeral system employed two slanted wedges to signify an empty place in a number. However, this was merely a placeholder without any numerical value.

A more concrete step towards our modern zero emerged in Greece. The letter omicron (ο), short for οὐδὲν (*ouden* = nothing), was utilized as a placeholder in astronomical calculations by figures such as Ptolemy and Iamblichus as early as the 1st century CE. This practice likely influenced Indian mathematicians following Alexander the Great’s conquests.

Indian mathematicians revolutionized this concept by transforming the placeholder into a full-fledged number. Initially represented by a dot called ‘bindu‘ (बिन्दु), zero became a cornerstone of arithmetic and algebra. This innovation was crucial in the development of our modern number system.