# Roman numerals – Ancient Roman numbers

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Claudia Pieris’ tombstone (CIL VI.15543) She lived 117-138 AD. Now in Copenhagen, at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.

The Romans used several different systems for writing numbers. Sometimes they wrote numbers like this: I II III IV V and other times they used the Greek numbers. Roman people didn’t always write numbers the same way, either – people knew what you meant even if you did it a little differently.

On this Roman woman’s tombstone from the time of the emperor Hadrian, the last line shows how long she lived. It starts with QVA-VIX-AN – that’s short for “Who lived in years…” and then it shows how many years, how many months, and how many days. Can you work it out?

Here’s a table showing all of the Roman numerals.

 I 1 L 50 II 2 C 100 III 3 D 500 IV (or IIII) 4 M 1000 V 5 VI 6 VII 7 VIII 8 IX (or VIIII) 9 X 10

So MMIII is 2003, and XXIV is 24, and CLVII is 157. (Putting a bigger number like V after a smaller number like I means “1 less than 5” or 4).

Want some more practice? Try writing these numbers in Roman numbers (see the second page for the answers):

314

26

1975

2010