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Cistercian Monk Numerals

Tool to convert Cistercian numbers (read / write monks cipher/numbers of cistercian monks into Arabic numerals) used in the Middle Ages (also called cipher of the monks).

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Cistercian Monk Numerals -

Tag(s) : Numeral System, Symbol Substitution

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Cistercian Monk Numerals

Conversion of Cistercian Numbers

Convert to Cistercian Number


Answers to Questions (FAQ)

What are cistercian numbers? (Definition)

The Cistercian numeration was recently discovered. Used by Cistercian monks at the end of the Middle Ages, it makes it possible to write numbers between 0 and 9999 using a drawing made up of a vertical bar and a few lines.

How to write a number with cistercian monks cipher?

The numeral system of Cistercian monks uses a quadrant (in 4 parts) to represent numbers from 0 to 9999.

Any number necessarily consists of a central vertical bar, if nothing else is written, then it takes the value 0, otherwise, the quadrant at the top right corresponds to the units, the quadrant at the top left for the tens, the quadrant at the bottom right for the hundreds and the last quadrant at the bottom left for the thousands.

There are then 9 symbols to represent the numbers (here the units):

1char(1)2char(2)3char(3)
4char(4)5char(5)6char(6)
7char(7)8char(8)9char(9)

Rotate/mirror these symbols to write them in the right quadrant.

Example: 5555 is written cistercian-5555

How to read/convert a cistercian number to arabic number?

Decompose the symbol in 4 quadrants and find the corresponding figure for the thousand (bottom left), hundreds (bottom right), tens (top left), units (top right).

Example: cistercian-3579 is read 3579

How to write a decimal number (with decimal places)?

Research has not shown the existence of decimal numbers among the traces left by monks.

How to recognize a cistercian monk cipher/numbers?

Numbers are composed of line-based symbols in 4 corners.

All references to the Cistercian order and the (french) monks are clues.

This numeral system was popularized by David A. King's book entitled The Ciphers of the Monks: a Forgotten Number-notation of the Middle Ages

When was this cistercian numeral system invented?

The cistercian numeral system seems to have been created around the 14th century.

Source code

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Cistercian Monk Numerals on dCode.fr [online website], retrieved on 2022-08-08, https://www.dcode.fr/cistercian-numbers

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