The history of *Latin Numerals* is a surprisingly controversial subject primarily because the Etruscan roots of *Latin Numerals* are *cast in stone* in Scotland.

**Latin Numeral Evolution**

The familiar [modern] *Latin Numerals* are an evolutionary *end product*.

The modern evolution of the *Latin Numeral* notation has been quite dramatic with many *Medieval* inventions being deprecated to produce the familiar modern notation.

And sometime after 1593 the letter M became the standard symbol for 1000.

The Roman numeral

Ⅿrepresents the number1000, though itwas not used in Roman times.

The early development of *Latin Numerals* includes the introduction of the *Subtractive Notation* shorthand whereby [for example] the numeral [for nine] “VIIII” becomes “IX”.

Subtractive notationis an early form of positional notation used with Roman numerals asa shorthandto replace four or five characters in a numeral representing a number with usually just two characters.Using subtractive notation the numeral

VIIII becomes simply IX.

This means historical *Latin Numerals* are subject to interpretation because [for example] XIV represents 14 [in the shorthand notation] and 16 [in the more archaic longhand notation].

Without subtractive notation, XIV represents the same number as XVI (16 in Arabic numerals).

With the introduction of subtractive notation, XIV (14) no longer represents the same number as XVI but rather is an alternative way of writing XIIII.

It appears the *Subtractive Notation* started to appear in the middle of the second century BC.

However, the

subtractive principleis found on some early tombstones and on asignboard of 130 B.C.where at the crowded end of a lineeighty-three is written XXCIIIinstead of LXXXIII.

The Roman System of Mathematics

Mary Lillian Copeland – Boston University – 1938

https://archive.org/stream/romansystemofmat00cope#page/24/mode/1up

Overall, ancient *Latin Numerals* are a surprising diverse art form.

https://archive.org/stream/romansystemofmat00cope#page/25/mode/1up

Early *Latin Numerals* include a mix of *Latin* and *Etruscan* symbols.

https://archive.org/stream/romansystemofmat00cope#page/19/mode/1up

That the

Roman numerals were probably derived from the Etruscansmay be based on the following noteworthy peculiarities common to both;(1) the lack of zero.

(2)

the subtractive principlewhereby a value may be diminished by placing before it one of the lower order, as IV for four(3) the multiplicative effect of a bar over numerals, as XXX for 30,000.

https://archive.org/stream/romansystemofmat00cope#page/20/mode/1up

Note:

Some of these ancient symbols are used today in the BerberTifinaghscript.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tifinagh_%28Unicode_block%29

The Tifinagh alphabet is thought to have derived from the old Berber script.

The name

Tifinagh possibly means ‘the Phoenician letters’, or possibly from the phrase tifin negh, which means ‘our invention’.

Omniglot.com – Tifinagh – Simon Ager

https://www.omniglot.com/writing/tifinagh.htm

**Antonine Wall Distance Slabs**

The *Antonine Wall* has some interesting evolutionary examples of *Latin Numerals*.

The

Antonine Wall, known to the Romans as Vallum Antonini, was aturf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde.Representing the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire, it spanned approximately

63 kilometres (39 miles)and was about3 metres (10 feet) high and 5 metres (16 feet) wide.

…

Constructionbegan in AD 142at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, and took about12 years to complete.

…

The soldiers who built the wall commemorated the construction and their struggles with the Caledonians in decorative slabs, twenty of which still survive.The wall was

abandoned only eight years after completion, and the garrisons relocated back to Hadrian’s Wall.

The interpretation of the *Distance Slabs* dotted along the *Antonine Wall* is a traditional *cottage industry*.

The *Latin Numerals* on these *Distance Slabs* reveal an evolutionary history that’s **difficult to reconcile** with the [official] 20 year lifespan of the *Antonine Wall*.

For example:

A Legion XX inscription uses:

An “overline” to indicate which

Numeralsshould be multiplied by 1000.The more archaic B [instead of D] to represent 500.

https://archive.org/stream/romanwallinscotl00macduoft#page/273/mode/1up

Another system is the vinculum, where

a conventional Roman numeral is multiplied by 1,000 by adding an overline.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_numerals

It has been stated that in Roman numeral notation, a vinculum may indicate that the numerals under the line represented a thousand times the unmodified value.

Mathematical historian

David Eugene Smith disputes this.The notation was certainly in use in the Middle Ages.

A Legion II inscription uses the “overline” to indicate single digit numbers – as in Legion II – but in larger numbers the letter I represents 1000 and a small I denotes single digits.

https://archive.org/stream/romanwallinscotl00macduoft#page/277/mode/1up

A Legion VI inscription uses a 1000 symbol that’s closely related to it’s Etruscan ancestor.

https://archive.org/stream/romanwallinscotl00macduoft#page/n364/mode/1up

A second Legion VI inscription uses a very similar symbol – based upon straight lines – that also echoes it’s Etruscan ancestor.

https://archive.org/stream/romanwallinscotl00macduoft#page/n370/mode/1up

Unsurprisingly, the mainstream distances itself from this untimely Etruscan connection.

The mainstream creatively transmogrifies the 1000 symbol into what can best be described as a very well rounded infinity symbol **∞** that’s said to be a *Roman* invention.

https://archive.org/stream/romanwallinscotl00macduoft#page/276/mode/1up

There is even a modern *cock and bull* story for this *academic* invention.

The old storyline was far too honest.

https://archive.org/stream/romansystemofmat00cope#page/29/mode/1up

Especially as the old storyline leads straight back to a very Latin literate North Africa!

Priscianus Caesariensis (fl. AD 500), commonly known as

Priscian, was aLatin grammarianand the author of the Institutes of Grammar which was the standard textbook for the study of Latin during the Middle Ages.

…

The details of Priscian’s life are largely unknown.Priscian was

born and raisedin theNorth-Africancity of Caesarea (modern Cherchell, Algeria) the capital of the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis.

After all, they wouldn’t like anyone to understand the *Roman Conquest of Britain* occurred long before the [officially sanctioned] reign of Emperor Claudius.

The

Roman conquest of Britainwas a gradual process, beginning effectivelyin AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, whose general Aulus Plautius served as first governor of Roman Britain (Latin: Britannia).

They wouldn’t like anyone to understand that people were reading and writing Etruscan long after the [officially sanctioned] death of the “last person” who could read Etruscan – especially when that “last person” is meant to have been Emperor Claudius.

The

last personknown to have been ableto read Etruscan was the Roman emperor Claudius (10 BC – AD 54), who authored a treatise in 20 volumes on the Etruscans, called Tyrrenikà (now lost), and compiled a dictionary (also lost) by interviewing the last few elderly rustics who still spoke the language.Plautia Urgulanilla,

the emperor’s first wife, was Etruscan.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etruscan_language#History_of_Etruscan_literacy

And, of course, they wouldn’t want anyone to realise that the numerous incarnations of Legion VI [under Caesar, Augustus, Severus and Diocletian] are very good pointers to where the *Roman* narrative has been **spliced and diced**.

Legio VIcan refer to any of the following Roman legions• Legio VI

Ferrata,

which served underJulius Caesar and later Mark Antony and Augustus Caesar• Legio VI Hispana – VI

Spanish Legion,

a little-known legion which might have been founded bySeptimus Severus• Legio VI

Victrix,

which served underAugustus Caesar• Legio VI

Herculia,

levied by the emperorDiocletianhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legio_VI

Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid concluding the historical narrative has been

spliced and dicedto create a desiredhappy ending.See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/the-great-splice/

**Footnote**

A good overview of the *Antonine Wall* inscriptions can be seen here.

How would arithmetic have been carried out using ‘I’s, ‘V’s, ‘X’s etc.?

Addition would be easy. But how could multiplication, division etc. be possible?

In a word: Abacus.

Numerals are a shorthand notation used to write numbers.

Think Pitmans – Not Pythagoras.

e.g. The shorthand for “quinque” is “V”.

The shorthand notation probably developed from simple “finger gestures”.

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