It is often said that Romans (see below) had a terrible number system, which made a computations a mess. I do believe this, but I'm really suspicious of the claim that nobody had better ways to do computations until Fibonacci brought Eastern techniques to Europe. This is even more suspicious when you think about how big was the Roman empire, so that it featured a lot of fiscal checks (such as census), infrastructural works (hence engineering and logistics) and, above all, economic activity (can you believe greedy merchants didn't think of better ways to make calculations?). So, were arithmetic algorithms so inefficient before Arabic numerals were adopted Western Europe?

EDIT: I use Romans as a proxy for "ancient Western Europe civilization". I suppose anything known to Europeans (e.g. Greeks) in the last centuries BC and first centuries AD was known to Romans as well. Also I assume anything known before was inherited, i.e. if Egyptians/Babylonians/Etruscan had wonderful arithmetical techniques I doubt they got lost in history, since these are the kind of things that tend to be spread (see merchants, see what happened with modern numerals).

EDIT2: I'm not asking about numerals, but about techniques of computation. From the comments I see that the two things had indeed disjoint developments.

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    $\begingroup$ Babylonians had a positional system (base 60) and well developed algorithms for it long before Indians, Arabs or Fibonacci, even before ancient Greeks. It was used by scientists during Hellenistic and Roman times. Even without that, Greeks and Chinese had proto-decimal systems. Egyptian system was less efficient, but they had well developed algorithms for it too. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 10 '19 at 2:27
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Has a digit ever been used to represent the number "10"? $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 10 '19 at 2:28
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    $\begingroup$ That the Greeks and Romans were bad at computations is a myth. As you point out, they made plenty of calculations, but they did them with an abacus using "calculi" (stones). Working with an abacus involves essentially positional mathematics with the same algorithms that were used up to recent times, except that they are immediately erased. This was in fact one of the reasons why Hindu numerals were adopted by accountants in Fibonacci's time. $\endgroup$ – Chrystomath Jul 10 '19 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ The definition of duplicate on SE is not that the questions are the same, but that the answers to one already answer the other. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 10 '19 at 7:27
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    $\begingroup$ They are under the links, including the abacus (suanpan), and the information is available in the standard Wikipedia articles. $\endgroup$ – Conifold Jul 10 '19 at 7:39

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