Based on the Historical background of whole numbers, we have an idea about how people have used various symbols or numerals as a method of expressing numbers.
Many of these symbols were drawn from objects that people came across in their everyday life.
The early Egyptians used flowers like lotus or polliwogs or even pointed fingers to symbolize numbers.
The Aztecs used to draw a sack to represent the number 8000 because a sack full of cocoa contained about 8000 beans.
People from the Indian peninsula invented Math symbols such as 1, 2, 3 which we are using today. These are now universally used and were brought in by the Arabs to Europe. Later they were divided into whole numbers and rational numbers, real numbers...etc.