How to Add Roman Numerals
In the roman number system a symbol has a certain value and as a result is not able to show place value. This means addition is difficult and it is virtually impossible to do the subtraction, multiplication or division algorithms.
So how did they do all the mathematics needed to construct all their great buildings, collect taxes and make the complex calculations involved in creating the calendar?
The answer is the abacus shown on the desk at the beginning of this webquest. All calculations were done on the abacus and then roman numerals were used ONLY to record the totals.
It also needs to be noted that the Romans also had no way of representing parts of numbers i.e. fractions or decimals.
The shortcomings of the system meant a lot of the progress we take for granted would never have been discovered had people continued to use roman numerals.
Make a list of things that could not have been achieved if we had have stayed with the inefficient and cumbersome roman numerals system.
Take me to the Roman Numbers Page