Eliotte Rusty Harold wrote (on unicode@...):
> Today's European digits like 0, 1, 2, and 3 are actually closer to
> the original Hindu glyphs from 1000 years ago than to true Arabic
> numerals. Both Arabic and European digits derive from the original
> sources in India. however, the Arabic numerals had to shift a lot
> more to make for convenient writing in the right-to-left script
> system employed in Arabic than in the left-to-right printed system
> used in the West in the Middle Ages.

An interesting point.

I think that the early (Italian? Spanish?) mathematicians who adopted the
"Arabic" digits actually used the Arabic glyphs (which, BTW, at that timer
were probably more similar to Hindi glyphs that they are today). I assume
that those mathematicians had a working knowledge of written Arabic because
they needed to use Arabic ("Moresque") math manuals.

I think that the great differentiation came when typographers engraved the
types to print math books, trying to "harmonize" the digits to the Latin

However, looking at the shape of some digits (e.g., "2" and "3") I wondered
too whether these glyph had undergone 45 degree rotations during their
travel from LTR Indic scripts through RTL Arabic script to LTR European

_ Marco