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# Where did Roman numerals come from?

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As the name suggests, Roman numerals originated in Ancient Rome. The symbols used to make up Roman numerals began showing up in artifacts from 900 to 800 B.C.

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The seven basic letters or symbols used in Roman numerals include I, V, X, L, C, D and M. Historians believe that the ancient Romans started using Roman numerals because they needed a common method for counting. The counting system was devised based on the human hand's 10 fingers.

Each letter or symbol has a specific meaning in the Roman numeral system. A single line, represented by what we know as an "I" was used to reference one finger or one unit. A "V" symbol represented five fingers, while an "X" was representative of two hands or 10 fingers. The Roman numeral M, which represents 1,000 units, was derived from "phi," a Greek letter that was sometimes represented as "CI" with a backwards "C" at the end, which gives the appearance of the letter "M." The Roman numeral "D" came to represent 500 units, since the shape formed by the symbol described above, "CI" followed by a backwards "C" at the end, was thought to look like the letter "D." The letters "L" for 50 units and "C" for 100 units evolved from flattened out or superimposed renderings of other Greek letters.

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## Related Questions

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The number 15 is written as XV in Roman numerals. The symbol X stands for ten while the symbol V stands for five. The symbol for the smaller number must be written after the symbol for the larger number.

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The Roman numeral equivalent for the number 94 is XCIV. The Roman numeral system employs letters rather than actual numbers. In many cases, a number must be broken down into parts in order to write its Roman numeral equivalent.

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In order to read Roman numerals, make sure to know what each symbol means, when numbers add or subtract, and how to handle somewhat-larger numbers.