The Maths-Classics project

Assignment 3

The Greek number systems

You will need to have looked at Assignment 2 before starting this one. Remind yourself of The Greek Alphabet. [http://people.msoe.edu/~tritt/greek.html]

Greek Numbers : 1. The Classical age

This system combined a tallying idea with the first letter of the word for various of the numbers.

| = 1      || = 2      ||| = 3      |||| = 4.

= 5

This is because is an old form of the Greek letter pi (p) and is the first letter of the Greek word for five: penta

| = 6.

Write down the Greek numbers for 7, 8, and 9.

= 10

Write down, briefly, why you think they used this symbol.

= 20.

Can you work out the Greek way of writing all the numbers from 11 to 49 ?

= 50 from 5 x 10 [note the small delta "hanging" from the 5 symbol]

= 60

= 100. Can you say why you think this was used?

Write down the Greek for 150 and 200

= 500 from 5 x 100 [note the small H for 100 hanging from the 5 symbol]

= 1000 from chilioi

= 10,000 from myrias

Examples of Athenian numbers

This inscription from Athens (5th century BC) shows the amounts of money
contributed by various cities to Athens. The t on on its side is the symbol for "half".

You should now be able to answer the following:

What number is this !! Remember that the largest number is always on the left.


Can you write 2012 using this system ?

Chose any special or favorite numbers of you own and write them using this system.

Greek Numbers 2 : The Alexandrian Age

You'll need your completed version of the Greek alphabet that you made for Assignment 2

In this system each letter of the full alphabet represents a numeral - yours will have three letters missing.

The letters for 6, 90 and 900 are not in the normal Greek alphabet that was used at the time, ( c. 250 BC ). They are called digamma F , koppa   and sampi   

To write 1, 2, 3 etc we use a' b' g' etc (alpha, beta, gamma followed by a vertical dash) - remember 6 will be F '

To write 11 , 12 etc. we use ia' (iota alpha followed by a vertical dash) , ib' , ...

Can you write down the Greek for 23, 69, 195 , 999 ?

For numbers larger than 999, a dash is written below the letter.

so 1000, 2000, etc are written a, b, ...

Can you write 2001 in Greek numbers ?

Have you any favourite or special numbers that you can write in Greek ?

Have you any comments to make about this numbering system ?

Next assignment - measurements from the body