Etruscan numerals |
East Asian |
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Alphabetic |
Former |
Etruscan numerals could mean the words and phrases for numbers of the
The Etruscan symbolic number notation included the following symbols with known values:^{[1]}
Symbol | |||||
๐ | ๐ก | ๐ข | ๐ฃ | ๐ | |
Value | 1 | 5 | 10 | 50 | 100 |
(With the proper Unicode font installed, the first two rows should look the same.)
Examples are known of the symbols for larger numbers, but it is unknown which symbol represents which number. Most numbers were written with "additive notation", namely by writing symbols that added to the desired number, from higher to lower value. Thus the number '87', for example, would be written 50 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 1 = "๐ฃ๐ข๐ข๐ข๐ก๐ ๐ ".^{[1]} (Since the Etruscan script was usually written from right to left, the number would appear as "๐ ๐ ๐ก๐ข๐ข๐ข๐ฃ" in inscriptions. This caveat holds for all the following examples.)
However, mirroring the way those numbers were spoken in their language, the Etruscans would often write 17, 18, and 19 as "๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ข๐ข", "๐ ๐ ๐ข๐ข", and "๐ ๐ข๐ข" โ that is, "three from twenty", "two from twenty", and "one from twenty", instead of "๐ข๐ก๐ ๐ ", "๐ข๐ก๐ ๐ ๐ ", and "๐ข๐ก๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ ".^{[1]} (The Romans occasionaly did the same for 18 and 19, matching the way they said those numbers: duodeviginti and undeviginti. This habit has been attributed to Etruscan influence in the Latin language.^{[2]})
The same pattern was used for 27, 28, 29, 37, 38, 39, etc. In contrast, the Etruscans generally wrote "๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ " for 4 (alone and in 14, 24, 34, etc.), "๐ข๐ข๐ข๐ข" for 40, and "๐ก๐ ๐ ", "๐ก๐ ๐ ๐ ", "๐ก๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ " for 7, 8, and 9 alone. (In that they were unlike the Romans, who would write 4 as "IV", 9 as "IX", 40 as "XL".)^{[1]}
These symbols were used throughout the Etruscan zone of influence, from the plains of northern
The Etruscan number signs for 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100 ("๐ ", "๐ก", "๐ข", "๐ฃ", and "๐") have been assigned specific codes in the Unicode computer character set, as part of the
The Etruscan number symbols may have been based on the Greek
An older theory, advanced by Th. Mommsen in 1887 and echoed by A. Hooper, is that the symbols for 1, 5, and 10 originated as representations of hand
In that theory, the early inhabitants of the region counted from 1 to 4 by extending the same number of long fingers (index to little); gestures that were represented in writing by "๐ ", "๐ ๐ ", "๐ ๐ ๐ ", "๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ ". The count of 5 was signaled by extending those 4 fingers plus the thumb; and the written symbol "๐ก" is then meant to depict that hand, with the thumb out to the side. The numbers 6 to 9 then would be signaled by one fully open hand and 1 to 4 long fingers extended in the other; which would be depicted as "๐ก๐ ", "๐ก๐ ", "๐ก๐ ๐ ", "๐ก๐ ๐ ๐ ". Finally 10 would be signaled by two hands with all fingers and thumbs extended; which, in writing, would be represented by the upper and lower halves of the symbol "๐ข".^{[3]}^{[4]}
Another hypothesis, which seems to be more accepted today, is that the Etrusco-Roman numerals actually derive from notches on
In that system, each unit counted would be recorded as a notch cut across the stick. Every fifth notch was double cut, i.e. "๐ก" and every tenth was cross cut, "๐ข"; much like European
When transposing the final count to writing (or to another stick), it was obviously unnecessary to copy each "๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ ฮ๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ " before a "๐ข", or each "๐ ๐ ๐ ๐ " before a ฮ. So the count of '28' would be written down as simply "๐ข๐ขฮ๐ ๐ ๐ ".