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The 9 Signs – Writing Numerals

The Hindu-Arabic numerals as we know them today only became widely used in the west in the 15th Century. Until then Roman numerals were in use.

Using symbols not letters for numerals probably started with the Brahmi in India around the 3rd Century BCE. The symbols developed over centuries, were taken up by the Arabs in the 8th C and from here they spread to Spain and Europe in the 9th C. Their use however, spread gradually as the Christains regarded the numerals as evil and dangerous – because they came from the Muslim world. This new numeral system was extremely practical for trade, accounting and business records and eventually replaced Roman Numerals for arithmetic.

The Hindu-Arabic numeral system has been included in the book, ‘The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2000 Years’.

Due to their late introduction to Europe, scripts do not have a corresponding set of Hindu-Arabic numerals. We have to somehow make these separately evolved shapes fit with our writing.

We’ll study how to writie numerals so that they match the script we’re working with.

We’ll look at a couple of historical scripts, a couple of modern ones and try some layouts using numbers.