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Compounds where Avout live and work. Several maths grouped together form a Concent.

Maths are surrounded by walls and, in general kept closed to isolate them from the rest of society (the Saecular world), other maths in the same Concent as well as other Concents. The primary exception to this is during the ten day period of Apert when the gates to the math are opened allowing those from outside to enter and tour the math and also allowing Avout to travel Extramuros. Total isolation is not practical, and specially trained Avout known as hierarchs interact with the Powers That Be in the outside, Saecular world, as well as coordinating shared functions between the maths in a Concent. This is done in ways to minimize the transmission of information about the Saecular world to the Avout. Coordination of policies within Maths is maintained by the Inquisition, a group of heirarchs who travel between Concents and therefore must interact with Saecular society.

The Avout grow all of their own food from plants which have been genetically engineered to contain chemicals that leave the Fraa sterile, thus preventing Fraa and Suur from having children which might eventually lead to a new race of hyperintelligent people. This sterility is not permanent, and the effects can be reversed in a matter of weeks if Avout stop eating food containing this chemical. By growing their own food the Avout are also able to avoid plants which contain Allswell, which is common outside of the maths. It takes two weeks of consuming Extramuros food for the effects of Allswell to become apparent, which is why Apert is restricted to 10 days.

A math may contain Avout from several orders.

Types of Maths[]

Maths are characterized by the number of years which lapse between each Apert.

  • Unarian maths have Apert each year. Avout from these maths are sometimes called "one-offs." Many people enter unarian maths for a few years, in order to acquire higher education before undertaking a saecular career.
  • Decenarian maths have Apert once every ten years. Avout from these maths are sometimes called "tenners."
  • Centenarian maths have Apert once every century. Avout from these maths are colloquially known as "Hundreders."
  • Millenarian maths have Apert once every thousand years, and Avout in these maths are sometimes referred to as "Thousanders."
  • "Ten-Thousanders ." Fraa Orolo makes a reference to maths which only open every ten thousand years, but this is treated as a joke.
  • "Pin-prick" maths with a single Avout are located in distant locations. These maths include a barrier of some sort (which may be more symbolic than functional) and some type of clock.

History of Maths[]

The first Maths were founded by Saunt Cartas following the collapse of the Bazian Empire in -1500 A.R.. This system, known as the Old Mathic System, lasted until the Rebirth, c. A.R. -500, when Avout left the cloistered environment of the Maths and freely mixed with Saecular society. The Praxic Age began approximately one hundred years later, a time of great advancement in science and technology. These advances reached a crisis point in the year A.R. -5 and the global destruction of The Terrible Events.

Following The Terrible Events the Mathic system was revived, with scientists, engineers and scholars moving back into Maths. The destruction of records during this period make it unclear as to whether this segregation was voluntary or forced. The year of the Reconstitution is used as the basis of the calendar and is defined to take place in the year zero.

Maths were created after The Terrible Events to keep the study of science and technology separate from the rest of society in what is known as the Reconstitution. The upheavals and destruction of The Terrible Events destroyed most of the historical record from that period, but it is thought that the development of technologically sophisticated weapons were the prime motive for creating the maths.

For the next 3700 years, the Mathic System survived the political, military and economic upheavals of the Saecular world with only three notable exceptions, the Sacks.

At the conclusion of the novel Anathem the Mathic system has been revised in what was called by some a Second Rebirth.