As stated yesterday, the traditional names of the Magi did not begin to gel until between 500 and 750 CE. But, even before that, the Syrian, Armenian and Ethiopian traditions handed down that there were three of them.
Recently in his book THE REVELATION OF THE MAGI, Brent Landau pulled from a source that went back to around the 3rd century of the common era and claimed there were an even twelve of the visitors.
“The names of the 12 Magi are all late Persian—Zaharwandad, Hormizd, Aushtazp, Arshak, Zarwand, Ariho, Artahshishat, Ashtanbozan, Mihruq, Ahshirash, Nasardih, Merodak, and include the names of Ahuramazda (Hormuzd) and Mithras (Mihrug).”
Now, of course, this was just the Magi. It is also told that they traveled with a caravan that came to Jerusalem ‘like a small army’. With all the servants need, I wouldn’t doubt it. Other sources state that twelve began the journey but nine had to return leaving the traditional three to visit the Christ child.
How ever it happened, the traditions centered around the three gifts inferring three Magi. The actual number may never be known.