Who is asking: Student
It is not as easy as you might think! Use Roman Numerals and try to multiply VIII and MCMXCVIII without converting to ordinary numbers. It's the way that we write numbers and the procedure that we use to multiply that makes multiplication seem so easy.
In earlier civilisations merchants needed to count and to add, and in every large city there were people who could do both. However, multiplying is not that important for merchants, and this is why the roman number system remained in use for so long in our civilisation.
Some simple multiplication can be done by repeated addition. For example twelve times three is twelve plus twelve (which is twenty-four) plus twelve which gives thirty-six. There is a method that was used by the early Egyptians that we now call Egyptian multiplication that performs multiplication by doubling.
In earlier civilisations, multiplication was also not very useful in everyday life, however the scholars would know about multiplication. We find traces of advanced mathematics in every civilisation that left enough writing for us to find. There is a method
For instance, the Greeks knew about prime numbers, greatest common factors and lowest common multiples; they could prove that there were infinitely many prime numbers, and many other things. One thing that they did now seems strange to us: They considered different kinds of magnitudes: numbers, lengths, areas, volumes. They could multiply numbers and get numbers. They could multiply lengths and get areas, or multiply a length by an area and get a volume. But they could not multiply areas together. That is to say, their conception of "numbers" was completely different from our modern concept of real numbers with decimals, including negative numbers.Cheers,
Claude and Penny