World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Prehistoric numerals

Article Id: WHEBN0014038538
Reproduction Date:

Title: Prehistoric numerals  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Prehistory, History of writing ancient numbers, Tally stick, Outline of prehistoric technology, Chalcolithic
Collection: Numeral Systems, Prehistory
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Prehistoric numerals

Counting in prehistory was first assisted by using body parts, primarily the fingers. This is reflected in the etymology of certain number names, such as in the names of ten and hundred in the Proto-Indo-European numerals, both containing the root *dḱ also seen in the word for "finger" (Latin digitus, cognate to English toe).

Early systems of counting using tally marks appear in the Upper Paleolithic. The first more complex systems develop in the Ancient Near East together with the development of early writing out of proto-writing systems.

Contents

  • Tally marks 1
  • Bronze Age writing 2
  • Precolumbian Americas 3
  • Unicode 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Tally marks

Counting aids other than body parts appear in the Upper Paleolithic. The oldest tally sticks date to between 35,000 and 25,000 years ago, in the form of notched bones found in the context of the European Aurignacian to Gravettian and in Africa's Late Stone Age.

The so-called Wolf bone is a prehistoric artefact discovered in 1937 in Czechoslovakia during excavations at Vestonice, Moravia, led by Karl Absolon. Dated to the Aurignacian, approximately 30,000 years ago, the bone is marked with 55 marks which may be tally marks. The head of an ivory Venus figurine was excavated close to the bone.[1]

It has been claimed that the Ishango Bone, found in the Ishango region of what is today the Democratic Republic of Congo and dated to over 20,000 years old, portrays a series of prime numbers. In the book How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years, Peter Rudman argues that the development of the concept of prime numbers could only have come about after the concept of division, which he dates to after 10,000 BC, with prime numbers probably not being understood until about 500 BC. He also writes that "no attempt has been made to explain why a tally of something should exhibit multiples of two, prime numbers between 10 and 20, and some numbers that are almost multiples of 10."[2]

These counting aids become more sophisticated in the Near Eastern Neolithic, developing into various types of proto-writing. The Cuneiform script develops out of proto-writing associated with keeping track of goods during the Chalcolithic.

Old Mokshan numerals[3][4]

The Moksha people, whose existence dates to about the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, had a numeral system.[5] The numerals were tally marks carved on wood, drawn on clay or birch bark. In some places they were preserved until the beginning of 20th century mostly among small traders, bee-keepers, and village elders. These numerals still can be found on old shepherd and tax-gatherer staffs, apiaries, and pottery.[6] [7] [8] [9]

Bronze Age writing

Precolumbian Americas

Unicode

Unicode's Supplementary Multilingual Plane has a number of codepoint ranges reserved for prehistoric or early historic numerals:

  • Aegean Numbers (10100–1013F)
  • Ancient Greek Numbers (10140–1018F)
  • Cuneiform Numbers and Punctuation (12400–1247F)
  • Counting Rod Numerals (1D360–1D37F)

See also

Notes

  1. ^ *Graham Flegg, Numbers: their history and meaning, Courier Dover Publications, 2002 ISBN 978-0-486-42165-0, pp. 41-42.
  2. ^ Rudman, Peter Strom (2007). How Mathematics Happened: The First 50,000 Years. Prometheus Books. p. 64.  
  3. ^ Drevnosti mordovskogo naroda. - Saransk, 1941, P.33
  4. ^ Мордва: Историко-этнографические очерки. Саранск,1981
  5. ^ Materialy po istorii mordvy VIII - IX vv. Dnevnik arkheologicheskikh raskopok P.P.Ivanova. - Morshansk, 1952
  6. ^ Martyanov V.N., Nadkin D.T. K voprosu o finno-ugorskoy sisteme schisleniya//Materialy po arkheologii i etnographii Mordovii. - Saransk, 1975
  7. ^ Drevnosti mordovskogo naroda. - Saransk, 1941, P.33
  8. ^ Kniga pisma i mery pistsov Dmitriya Yuryevicha Pushechnikova da podyachego Afanasiya Kostyayeva mordovskikh i burtasskikh zemel 132-go, 133-go i 134-go godov (GAFKE, Moscow Oruzheynaya palata fund, opis №33, d. № 3535
  9. ^ Мартьянов В. Н. Пиктографические изображения на парях — свадебных сундуках мордвы Горьковской области // Тр. НИИЯЛИЭ при Совете Министров Мордовской АССР. — Саранск, 1974. — Вып. 45

References

  • Arthur J. Evans, Writing in Prehistoric Greece, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (1900).

External links

  • http://www.thocp.net/timeline/0000.htm
  • http://members.fortunecity.com/jonhays/tallying.htm
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.