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Roman numerals, as the name suggests, originated in ancient Rome. No one is sure when they were first used, but it far predates the Middle Ages.
There are several theories as to the origins of this counting system, but it's commonly believed to have started with the ancient Etruscans. The symbol for 1 in the roman numeral system probably represented a single tally mark -- the kind people would notch into wood or draw into dirt to keep track of items or events they were counting.
Riddle: Using any symbol, what can you add to IX to make 6?
Math Cartoon #54 - "Recovery in Ancient Rome: The ambiguity of Roman Numerals" (10-13-12) (Click lower right to view)
Check out entertaining animated videos about roman numerals and math concepts at whyu.org
Practice using Roman Numerals; See the longest Roman Numeral: 3,888,888! at ostermiller.org
Roman Numeral exercises, flashcards, and converter, and other resources from Nicholasacademy.com
Riddle: What would a pack of M&M's cost in Ancient Rome?
Roman Numerals are used in a variety of applications. If you are creating an outline, you may be expected to use roman numerals. They are commonly used on clocks and watches, number book chapters, events, and films. Monarchs and Popes are usually numbered with this system, as are guitar chords and cranial nerves.
Crossword Puzzle creators are fond of using Roman Numerals in their grids. (It allows puzzle creators to fill in spaces with odd combinations of letters while using clever clues). Examples that require translation might be the following: "M in ancient Rome" (1000/thousand); "half of MCIV" (DLII);
Excerpt from "Number Stories of Long Ago" by David Eugene Smith (1919)
Titus liked to puzzle a chum of his named Caius, and one day he asked him this question : " What is the number that becomes one more when one is taken away from it ?"
"Your head," replied Caius, "must be just plain wood."
But when Titus wrote IX on the stone pavement and said to Caius, "Now take away the I and tell me what you have left," Caius saw that the wooden head had something in it after all.
Then Caius, remarking that he could think of many other numbers that would answer just as well, asked this question: "What is the number that becomes ten more when ten is taken away ? "Titus then asked Caius if he knew that half of nine was four, and Caius replied that he must be dreaming. But Titus pointed again to IX and asked Caius to take the upper half of it and see if it was not IV. Then Caius said that he could show that half of twelve was seven.
"That is nothing," said Titus; "half of thirteen is eight."
Source: Page 30
Why does this Rolex watch use IIII instead of IV? Why do some clocks not use IV to represent 4?
Symmetry and weight balance -- To oppose the VIII (eight), IIII was better than IV
Respect for the Roman God Jupiter -- IV is the symbol for Jupiter; so, public clocks used IIII instead of IV
Ease of use: Easier (and cheaper) to cast molding of IIII, instead of IV..
Preference: some just believe IIII is correct; or, they simply prefer IIII
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Hidden Message Puzzle II
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Math Riddle: If you take away 1/2 of five, you end up with four. How?
"XLIX" by Chris Burke (2-1-15)