I just stumbled upon this great little video about Ancient Numeration Systems. It does not go into depth on any particular system, but it wanders through the following:

Tally marks

Sumerian symbols

Babylonian symbols

Egyptian symbols

Roman symbols and modifications of it

Number systems based on the body (Zulu)

Commerce-based number systems (Yoruba in Nigeria)

Number systems involving knots and string (Persians, Incans)

Numerals 0-9 (invented in India)

Place value

Fractions as a solution for “fair-share” situations in culture

Unit Fractions (Egyptians)

Fractions with base-60 (Sumerians and Babylonians), still used for time measurements today

Abacus (Chinese)

Use of the “bar notation” in modern-day fractions

Computation by the double-half method (Russian)

Computation by a doubling procedure (Egyptian)

Computation by an abacus (Europe and Asia), the “handheld calculator of its day”

Introduction of Arabic Numerals in Europe

Importance of mental math algorithms to check for reasonableness

This would be a great introduction video to a unit that involves Numeration Systems.

Dr. Maria Andersen has spent most of her career teaching, writing curriculum, and developing digital products for learning. Recently she returned to the classroom, having new teaching adventures in K-12 middle and high school.