A Gift from the Greeks |

I |
V |
X |
L |
C |
D |
M |

1 |
5 |
10 |
50 |
100 |
500 |
1000 |

Because
the Romans didn’t have symbols for the numbers 2, 3,
4, 6, 7, 8, or 9, they developed a set of rules using the
placement of these seven letter-numerals to add and subtract
values from each other in order to represent a number. |

The most easily recognized system of counting symbols of all time was developed by the Etruscan civilization on the Italian peninsula who modeled their system on the ancient Greek alphabet and numerals around the 7th century BC. When the Romans defeated the Etruscans they adopted their alphabet and perpetuated the Greek practice of using letters for numbers.

To count and record numbers of various objects, a person simply makes a list of the objects and writes the number and description of the objects on a piece of paper. But if the person came from some ancient society before the invention of an alphabet and number symbols, he probably drew a hieroglyph or symbol that looked like the items he was counting and recorded the count with vertical slashes called tally marks. For the numbers one through four, each number was probably a vertical slash and every fifth number was probably a diagonal slash through the previous four marks because the human eye has trouble keeping count of a long row of upright slashes.

Grouping tally marks is accurate for small quantities but soon breaks down and becomes error prone for recording larger quantities such as numbers in the hundreds. In order to efficiently use tally marks for a large number of objects, symbols must be invented to stand for groups of objects that have totals of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 1,000, or more objects. The use of tally marks and primitive number symbols such as Roman Numerals served the needs of developing human societies to record quantities of objects for over a thousand years.

Children and illiterates could easily memorize the seven Roman number symbols which meant that the majority of the population was literate as long as small numbers were concerned and calculations were limited to addition and subtraction. Reading any large Roman number was always a mini mental math problem. It is interesting to note that the sum of the first six Roman Numerals “DCLXVI” is the number “666” and the value the seventh letter “M” is the number “1000.” Amazingly, these two numbers are closely linked with the number of Jesus (888) through the "magic square of the sun" and the "sign of Jesus Christ."

There are a number of rules that need to be followed in depicting Roman numerals. Some of these rules are followed more strictly than others. The additive rule says that numerals are written out in descending order in a long line so a number like "835" would be written as DCCCXXXV. But the subtraction rule says that the numerals I, X, or C can be placed to the left of a bigger number and then subtracted from it. That means that 4 could be written as IV, 19 as XIX and 900 as CM. The Romans however used the subtraction rule with discretion. Doorway numbers at the Coliseum in Rome (circa 80AD) show door 29 as XXVIIII, door 40 as XL, and door 44 as XLIIII rather than XLIV. It seems that if the subtraction rule was used, it was used for numerals of "50" (L) and larger but not for the smaller numerals such as "X" or "V."

This shows that the Roman's always tried to write their numbers as they would appear on an abacus - a calculating machine using pebbles or beads which were arranged from left to right in columns of ten-thousands, thousands, hundreds, tens, and units. That means that 99 could be represented as XCVIIII or XCIX (90+9) but never as IC (100-1). Similarly, 999 can never be IM and 1999 can never be MIM. An "I" can only be used to the left of a V or an X ... an "X" can only be used to the left of an L or a C ... and a "C" can only be used to the left of a D or an M.

The
great downside of Roman Numerals is that they were totally unsuitable
for multiplication or division. For dealing with large numbers
and complicated calculations ... the Romans used "*a
calculating machine*."

The Sacred Geometry Mysteries
of Jesus Christ

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