Severus Sebokht and “Arabic” numbers

A bunch of Syriac works on scientific subjects are preserved in a single manuscript in the BNF in Paris.  Most are by Severus Sebokht, the 6th century monk and bishop at the monastery of Kinnesrin, where Greek studies thrived.

I have a microfilm of this manuscript, and it contains a number of letters by Severus.  One of these is of wide interest; it defends Syriac science against the Greeks, and incidentally mentions (for the first time) the numbers that we today call “Arabic” numbers.  But it has never been translated; all our knowledge of it is from a small excerpt.

This is a reminder to myself; I need to get this transcribed and translated and put online!  That’s why I got the microfilm!


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