## How would a philosopher of math describe what happened when ancient

I think the answer will depend on which philosopher of math you ask. As you seem to recognize, some philosophers of math deny that numbers exist independently of us in such a way that their existence is genuinely *discovered* by us. Even philosophers of math who think that numbers *are* discovered might say that your question -- "What happened?" -- is an empirical historical or psychological question rather than a philosophical one. In any case, you'll find relevant material in the SEP entry on "Philosophy of Mathematics" at this link.

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