Friday, September 18, 2009

Learning about Ancient Rome: Roman Numerals

by Rascal

Roman Numerals
from Ancient Rome (Modern Rhymes About Ancient Times)

Some letters led a double life.
They served as numbers, too.
They used a simple system -
The numerals were few.

For one you used the letter "I."
For five the letter "V."
"L" was fifty; "X" was ten.
One hundred was a "C."

The system had its problems though,
When numbers got too high.
And Romans weren't able
To divide or multiply.

Their numerals were useful
But it's very clear to me,
That we are served much better
By our numbers 1, 2, 3...

A few of the other resources we've used:

However, the boys have had the most fun with this online Roman Numerals Game!


  1. +JMJ+

    I've always wondered how the Romans could even add and subtract! Did they have something they could write down the way we do, or did they just do it all in their heads?

  2. I've always wondered the same thing!

    On one site I read that "When they wanted to do complicated arithmetic problems, the Romans used a special counting board or an abacus." (Which we found very interesting since the Math program we use is based on using an abacus.)

    This link provides lots of explanations and examples!

  3. It would have been interesting to watch the faces of Roman mathematical scholars when they were introduced to base-10 Arabic numeral math. Reminds me of the saying "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."


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