A Short History of the Origin of Mathematics

Although the majority of people today would date the origins of mathematics back to the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks, there is evidence to suggest that counting originated in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 1960 geologists from Belgium discovered the Ishango bone near the Semliki river, which is on the border between modern-day Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This bone is a part of the shin of a baboon, and is believed to be over 20 000 years old. It contains markings which suggest knowledge of prime numbers, multiplication, and subtraction.In 1960 geologists from Belgium discovered the Ishango bone near the Semliki river, which is on the border between modern-day Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This bone is a part of the shin of a baboon, and is believed to be over 20 000 years old. It contains markings which suggest knowledge of prime numbers, multiplication, and subtraction.
The centre column shows 3 notches, followed by six, and then 4 notches followed by 8, before we have 10 notches followed by two sets of five notches. Researchers believe this to demonstrate knowledge of doubling and halving.
Origin of Mathematics
The centre column then shows 19 notches, followed by 17, then 13, and finally 11. These are the prime numbers between 10 and 20.
origin of mathematics
Finally, the right column contains 9 notches, followed by 19, and then 21 and 11. These may represent 10 – 1, 20 -1, 20 + 1, and 10 + 1.
origin of maths
It is difficult to say what exactly the markings mean, and what the Ishango bone may have been used for. Some analysts suggest that it was used for counting, others estimate that it was a lunar calendar, used by women to count the days of their menstruation cycle. The tool also has a sharp piece of quartz attached to one end. Thus the bone may have also been used for engraving.
In any case, the Ishango bone shows that sub-Saharan Africans may have pioneers in the field of mathematics, and were perhaps among the most advanced human beings at the time.

ADAM RHAITI

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4 Comments

  1. OKIA SIMON PETER 5 years ago October 13, 2016

    Nice information for us Africans who mind about our origin and culture. Bravo!

    REPLY
  2. Nuhu John Dibbari 5 years ago November 30, 2016

    Bravo, I am a librarian & I appreciate your article keep it up!

    REPLY
  3. Obaeluo Louis Mary 4 years ago May 9, 2017

    Interesting! So glad to know about this!

    REPLY
  4. Paige chika 3 years ago August 10, 2018

    Interesting am a further maths student

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