# Immediate reaction to — what is the oldest evidence of math?

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The oldest evidence of math is believed to be the Ishango bone, a notched bone found in the Democratic Republic of Congo that dates back to 20,000-18,000 BCE.

## Now let’s take a closer look

The Ishango bone, discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is believed to be the oldest evidence of math. This notched bone dates back to 20,000-18,000 BCE and was likely used as a tally stick or way of keeping score. The notches on the bone were grouped in different numbers, suggesting a rudimentary counting system.

According to historian of mathematics, Georges Ifrah, the Ishango bone is “a beautifully formed piece of art, a true work of aesthetic refinement, compact and perfectly proportioned” (The Universal History of Numbers).

Here are a few interesting facts about ancient math:

• Babylonians, who lived in Mesopotamia around 1800 BCE, are credited with creating the first known base-60 system, which we still use for measuring time (60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute).
• The ancient Greeks developed many important concepts in mathematics, including geometry and the Pythagorean theorem. Archimedes, who lived in the 3rd century BCE, is considered by many to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time.
• The Mayans, who lived in Mexico and Central America from around 2000 BCE to the 16th century CE, had a sophisticated numbering system that included the concept of zero. They also used math for astronomical observations and to create complex calendars.

Here is an example of a table that could be included:

Civilization Mathematical Accomplishments
Babylonians Base-60 system, astronomy
Greeks Geometry, Pythagorean theorem
Mayans Zero, complex calendars

## There are alternative points of view

The earliest form of mathematics that we know is counting, as our ancestors worked to keep track of how many of various things they had. The earliest evidence of counting we have is a prehistoric bone on which have been marked some tallies, which sometimes appear to be in groups of five.

The Sumerians left the earliest evidence of mathematics in writing. In 3000 BCE, they created a sophisticated system of metrology, and in 2500 B.C., they used clay tablets to record multiplication tables, geometry exercises, and division problems. The world’s oldest evidence of advanced mathematics was a baboon fibula discovered in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, and dates to at least 20,000 BC. The bone is now housed in the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels.

Sumerians, who built the first civilization in Mesopotamia, left the earliest evidence of mathematics in writing. In 3000 BCE, they created a sophisticated system of metrology. In 2500 B.C., the Sumerians used clay tablets to record multiplication tables, geometry exercises, and division problems.

The world’s oldest evidence of advanced mathematics was also a baboon fibula that was discovered in present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, and dates to at least 20,000 BC. The bone is now housed in the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels.

There are at least three categories of evidence for early human use of mathematics, principally for counting. They are bones as tally sticks, ancient manuscripts and old cave paintings where abstract symbols for numbers and other concepts are to be found. But we may not be the first species to count!

Dating as far back as 22000 years ago, in the Upper Paleolitic era, the Ishango bone is a dark brown bone which happens to be the fibula of a baboon, with a sharp piece of quartz affixed to one end for engraving. It is the oldest attestation of the practice of arithmetic in human history.

The Lebombo Bone [ http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lebombo_Bone ] is a baboon [ http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Baboon ]’s fibula [ http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Fibula ] with 29 distinct notches, discovered within the Border Cave [ http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Border_Cave ] in the Lebombo Mountains [ http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Lebombo_Mountains ] of Swaziland [ http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Swaziland ].

The so-called W…

This video discusses the debate between those who believe that mathematics is discovered, and those who believe that it is invented. The video provides examples of how mathematics has been used to solve problems in the real world.

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## I’m sure you will be interested

### What is the earliest evidence of math?

In reply to that: The earliest evidence of written mathematics dates back to the ancient Sumerians, who built the earliest civilization in Mesopotamia. They developed a complex system of metrology from 3000 BC.
Similar

### What is the oldest unanswered math problem?

The answer is: Goldbach’s conjecture is one of the oldest unsolved problems in math. It has inspired and fascinated generations of scholars and mathematicians all over the world ever since it was first articulated in 1742 – in a letter sent by Christian Goldbach to Leonhard Euler.

### Is math a humanly created subject?

Maths is a human construct
Maths is a product of the conscious mind: both a tool and a language used to make sense of the designs and functions of our universe – quenching humans’ instinctual thirst for rationalisation.

### What was math before calculus?

Answer will be: In some sense, the prerequisite for Calculus is to have an overall comfort with algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. After all, each new topic in math builds on previous topics, which is why mastery at each stage is so important.

### Where did mathematics come from?

The earliest evidence of written mathematics dates back to the ancient Sumerians, who built the earliest civilization in Mesopotamia. They developed a complex system of metrology from 3000 BC. From around 2500 BC onward, the Sumerians wrote multiplication tables on clay tablets and dealt with geometrical exercises and division problems.

### Where is the oldest mathematical object?

Answer: "The Oldest Mathematical Object is in Swaziland". Mathematicians of the African Diaspora. SUNY Buffalo mathematics department. Retrieved 2006-05-06. ^ Marshack, Alexander (1991): The Roots of Civilization, Colonial Hill, Mount Kisco, NY. ^ Rudman, Peter Strom (2007). How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years. Prometheus Books. p. 64.

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### What are the oldest mathematical records from India?

Response to this: The oldest extant mathematical records from India are the Sulba Sutras (dated variously between the 8th century BC and the 2nd century AD), appendices to religious texts which give simple rules for constructing altars of various shapes, such as squares, rectangles, parallelograms, and others.

### What is the oldest mathematical text from China?

The oldest extant mathematical text from China is the Zhoubi Suanjing (周髀算經), variously dated to between 1200 BC and 100 BC, though a date of about 300 BC during the Warring States Period appears reasonable.

### What is the history of mathematics?

The history of mathematics deals with the origin of discoveries in mathematics and the mathematical methods and notation of the past. Before the modern age and the worldwide spread of knowledge, written examples of new mathematical developments have come to light only in a few locales.

### Where is the oldest mathematical object?

The answer is: "The Oldest Mathematical Object is in Swaziland". Mathematicians of the African Diaspora. SUNY Buffalo mathematics department. Retrieved 2006-05-06. ^ Marshack, Alexander (1991): The Roots of Civilization, Colonial Hill, Mount Kisco, NY. ^ Rudman, Peter Strom (2007). How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years. Prometheus Books. p. 64.

### Is the story of prehistoric mathematics complete?

The response is: This may of course change as we continue to uncover windows into our prehistoric past. The story of prehistoric mathematics is undoubtedly not yet complete! Author’s Note: An early version on the prehistoric origins of mathematics was written ten years ago ( Dec 29, 2009 ).

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### Is mathematics an invention?

The answer is: Mathematics is not an invention. Discoveries and laws of science are not considered inventions since inventions are material things and processes. However, there is a history of mathematics, a relationship between mathematics and inventions and mathematical instruments themselves are considered inventions.

## Relevant information

You knew that, According to the book "Mathematical Thought from Ancient to Modern Times," mathematics as an organized science did not exist until the classical Greek period from 600 to 300 B.C. There were, however, prior civilizations in which the beginnings or rudiments of mathematics were formed. For example, when civilization began to trade, a need to count was created.
It is interesting: The earliest known evidence of mathematics dates back to around 30,000 BC when early humans began using tally marks to record the number of objects they had collected. The first known complex mathematical system was the Babylonian numeral system, which was developed around 4,000 BC. The origins of mathematical notation are also unclear.
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