ARCHAIC NUMBERS > CUNEIFORM > ROMAN NUMERALS
Conversion of archaic numbers to cuneiform
The round stylus was gradually replaced by a reed stylus that had been used to press wedge shaped cuneiform signs in clay.
To represent numbers that previously had been pressed with a round stylus, these cuneiform number signs were pressed in a circular pattern and they retained the additive sign-value notation that originated with tokens on a string.
Cuneiform numerals and archaic numerals were ambiguous because they represented various numeric systems that differed depending on what was being counted.
About 2100 BC in Sumer, these proto-sexagesimal sign-value systems gradually converged on a common sexagesimal number system that was a place-value system consisting of only two impressed marks, the vertical wedge and the chevron, which could also represent fractions.
This sexagesimal number system was fully developed at the beginning of the Old Babylonia period (about 1950 BC) and became standard in Babylonia.
Sexagesimal numerals were a mixed radix system that retained the alternating base 10 and base 6 in a sequence of cuneiform vertical wedges and chevrons. Sexagesimal numerals became widely used in commerce, but were also used in astronomical and other calculations.
This system was exported from Babylonia and used throughout Mesopotamia, and by every Mediterranean nation that used standard Babylonian units of measure and counting, including the Greeks, Romans and Syrians. In Arabic numerals, we still use sexagesimal to count time (minutes per hour), and angles (degrees).
Roman numerals evolved from this primitive system of cutting notches. It was once believed that they came from alphabetic symbols or from pictographs, but these theories have been disproved.