Africa contributed to mathematics through the development of several mathematical concepts, including numeration systems, geometry, and algebra, as evidenced by notable advancements made by civilizations such as the Egyptians, Nubians, and Ethiopians.
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Africa’s contribution to mathematics is often overlooked, but the continent has a rich history of mathematical achievement. The Egyptians, Nubians, and Ethiopians are just a few of the civilizations that made significant contributions to the field.
One of the most obvious and notable advancements made by the Egyptians was their development of a hieroglyphic system of numeration. This system allowed them to represent large numbers and make complex calculations, paving the way for more sophisticated mathematical concepts.
In addition to numeration, African civilizations also made significant advancements in geometry. For example, the ancient Egyptians developed a formula for finding the volume of a truncated pyramid, and the Nubians developed a method of calculating the circumference of a circle.
Perhaps most impressive, however, is the development of algebra by African mathematicians. The ancient Egyptians, in particular, made significant strides in the field. They were the first to use a form of algebraic notation to solve problems, and they even had a word for solving equations: “aha.”
As historian George Pólya once said, “we owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” Similarly, we owe a great deal to Africa and their contributions to mathematics.
Here are five interesting facts about Africa’s contribution to mathematics:
The oldest known mathematical artifact is the Lebombo bone, which was discovered in Swaziland and dates back to approximately 35,000 BCE. It is a baboon fibula with 29 notches carved into it, believed to have been used for mathematical counting and tracking lunar cycles.
The ancient Egyptians were also pioneers in trigonometry, using the concepts of angles, ratios, and measurements to construct the pyramids.
The Ethiopian mathematician Abba Gerima was known for his work in number theory and combinatorics. He is credited with discovering some of the earliest known examples of amicable numbers.
The Nubian civilization, which existed in what is now modern-day Sudan, was a center for mathematics and astronomy. The Nubians developed a calendar based on the cycles of the Nile River and made important contributions to the study of eclipses.
The Dogon people of Mali have a rich oral tradition of mathematical knowledge, including an understanding of binary numbers and the heliocentric theory of the solar system.
|Egyptians||Hieroglyphic numeration, formula for truncated pyramid volume, algebraic notation|
|Nubians||Method for calculating circumference of circle, calendar based on Nile River cycles|
|Ethiopians||Discovery of amicable numbers|
|Dogon||Understanding of binary numbers, heliocentric theory of the solar system|
A video response to “How did Africa contribute to mathematics?”
The African origin of mathematics is explored in this video, highlighting its foundation in everyday tasks and its ability to prevent disputes. The oldest known mathematical calculations were found in Africa, with the Ishango bone being an example of a bone used for tattooing or engraving, containing base 12 number systems with sub-bases of 3 and 4. This unique base-12 number system is known to be used in West Africa and is evidence of mathematics, making it the oldest known mathematics in the world. The video concludes with an invitation to join the community and a reminder that “we don’t come from nothing”.
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Africa is home to the world’s earliest known use of measuring and calculation, confirming the continent as the birthplace of both basic and advanced mathematics. Thousands of years ago, Africans were using numerals, algebra, and geometry in daily life.
Africa is home to the world’s earliest known use of measuring and calculation, confirming the continent as the birthplace of both basic and advanced mathematics. Thousands of years ago, Africans were using numerals, algebra and geometry in daily life. This knowledge spread throughout the entire world after a series of migrations out of Africa,
Africa is home to the world’s earliest known use of measuring and calculation, confirming the continent as the birthplace of both basic and advanced mathematics. Thousands of years ago, Africans were using numerals, algebra and geometry in daily life.
From the question’s details:
%3E I am not sure if historians are uncomfortable with sharing mathematical discoveries by pre-colonial Africa, or if the Africans simply did not have a system of mathematics. Could someone clear this up? I’m tired of hearing ancient China, India and Europe as being the primary contributors to math.
There’s a lot of published research into the mathematics of Ancient Egypt. The Rhind papyrus [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhind_Mathematical_Papyrus ] from the 17th century BC is one of the premier examples of math in the ancient world, and is well known to every student of the history of mathematics.
The Rhind papyrus demonstrates the use of linear algebraic equations, and methods for solving them. The Berlin papyrus [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Papyrus_6619 ], on the other hand, indicates that the Egyptians were able to solve quadratic equations, at least in some cases.
There are some indications of math-related tools used long before that, suc…