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date: 25 November 2020

numbers, Greeklocked

  • Thomas Little Heath
  •  and G. J. Toomer

Extract

There were two main systems:(1) The ‘alphabetic’ or ‘Milesian’, probably originating in Ionia and the older of the two. It consisted of the ordinary letters of the Ionian alphabet plus ς = 6, ϙ = 90, and or = 900. Thus α to θ represent 1 to 9, ι to ϙ 10 to 90, and ρ to 100 to 900. Thousands from one to nine are represented by to , and 10,000 by Μ. Multiples of 10,000 are written by putting the multiplier above; thus 126,763 is written , ςψξγ.(2) The ‘acrophonic’. Apart from |, the unit, the signs were the initial letters of the numeral words: = πέντε, = δέκα, = ἑκατόν, = χίλιοι, = μύριοι. Quintuples of the latter four were represented by a combination with ; thus , or = 50, = 500, = 5,000, = 50,000. Other multiples were expressed by repetition of the sign; thus 126,763 is written .

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