# Reply To: Ancient Numeration symbols

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Thank you for sharing your question!

Yes, I can certainly understand why you would request input on how to represent non-Arabic numeration systems in a braille document. [My favorite is the Mayan system, with its base-twenty and a shell that means zero.]

GTM 11.5.7 is a good reference to highlight. As you noted, it uses transcriber-defined symbols for Babylonian numerals, **and** that example only has to tackle two symbols.

You have many more than two symbols that do not have any UEB definition, distributed into four systems (Chinese, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Mayan).

My first answer is: If it were my child who was encountering this material, I would want them to have 3-D representations of the various symbols, with a distinct category of material for each system (e.g., Wikki Stix in various shapes for Egyptian numeration, puff painted shapes for Babylonian numeration, sticks and stones and shells for Mayan numeration, etc.).

I know that is not practical for us to produce for a braille book. So, failing that, I think there is a strong argument for using tactile graphics to represent all of the non-Arabic numeration systems.

**If we must use braille symbols,** then could we define the whole set of UEB's seven transcriber-defined symbols anew for each numeration system? And use a tn to note which set is used in print each time?

I am very wary of using Nemeth Code symbols in UEB, because the two codes have different foundations for symbol creation.

Alternatively, I **strongly suspect that transcriber-defined shapes are our best bet** here. Those would let us define a full set of shapes for each numeration system. The transcriber-defined shapes will be time-consuming to read, but a print user will very likely also take a lot of time to read the non-Arabic shapes. For this solution, I fervently hope that print includes a well-organized key of the numeration systems' printed components so you can follow that in creating your four sets of transcriber-defined shapes.

Hopefully that gives you more to work with.

If you need more, please let us know.

–Kyle