How Did Counting Begin in the Human Race?

Mathematics is one of the distinctives of the human kind. It is remarkable how recently it might have arisen.

Researchers says sticks made of bark, or animal bones were among the very first objects humans used as a measurement tool. Such sticks have been found in multiple locations around the world, and although some say they are not solid evidence of numerical record keeping, they hint at a sense of measurement literacy.

For example, ancient Mesopotamia had an astonishingly simple numerical system. Just two symbols: a vertical wedge, (v) to represent 1, and a horizontal wedge (<) to represent 10. That means <<v could represent 21.

Probably the most well-recognised numerical system are the ancient Egyptians Hieroglyphical system. They used different hieroglyphs for each power of 10. Surprisingly, the number 1 was represented as a vertical stroke, much like ours today. But others were more visually arresting. For example, 10 was a heel bone, 100 a scroll or rope, 1000 a lotus flower, 10,000 a finger, 100,000 a tadpole.

Other societies used object-number matching, which differed greatly from environment to environment. For example, the Aztecs would count using stones, that is, one stone, two stone and so so on. In a native tribe in Java, counting started with a single rice grain. Yet another tribe in the South Pacific used fruit as their scale of measurement


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