Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 03 April 2020

abacus ( ἄβαξ, ἀβάκιον), 

The Oxford Classical Dictionary
William David RossWilliam David Ross, Michael VickersMichael Vickers

a counting-board, the usual aid to reckoning in antiquity. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans alike used a board with vertical columns, on which (working from right to left) units, tens, hundreds, or (where money was in question) e.g. ⅛ obols, ¼ obols, ½ obols, obols, drachmae, sums of 10, 100, 1,000 drachmae, and talents were inscribed. When an addition sum was done, the totals of the columns were carried to the left, as in our ordinary addition. The numbers might be marked in writing or by pebbles, counters, or pegs.... ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.