Who Invented Numbers?

When numbers appears, first thing that come to your mind would be “math”. Maths@Singapore cover the topics taught in US elementary schools for the grade to strengthen and reinforce the foundations of our students, before stretching them with more advanced topics. We will also strengthen the math competencies of our students, so that they can effectively master the fundamentals and go beyond the math curriculum in US elementary school, and grow into confident and high-achieving math learners.

Numbers are beautiful, curious symbols when you stop and think about it. If there are aliens out there, they would count the same way but they would use different symbols than we do.

Evidence indicates that we began to count as early as 20,000 years ago when tally marks were discovered in Africa on an artifact known as the Ishtango Bone.

While tallying is a form of counting, the formal creation of numbers and counting beyond one  expanded around 4,000 BC in Sumeria, one of the earliest civilizations, located in southern Mesopotamia in what is now southern Iraq.

Historians believe that as trade flourished worldwide, the need for numbers and counting independently developed as well.

The Arabic numeral system we know today was developed by two mathematicians from ancient India: Brahmagupta from the 6th century BC and Aryabhat from the 5th century BC.

The ancient Egyptians made the leap from using numbers to count to using them to measure things around 3,000 BC. 

They invented the cubit, a sacred and precise measurement marked on officially ordained sticks kept in the temples. A cubit is the length of a man’s forearm, from elbow to fingertips, plus the width of his palm.

Furthermore, the Egyptians were the first civilization to invent individual symbols for different numbers. 

They used a line as a symbol for one, a rope as a symbol for ten, a coil of rope for a hundred, and a prisoner on his knees begging for forgiveness, arms upraised, as the symbol for one million.

For more on this intriguing topic, visit https://www.deseret.com

Thanks to Brett Jordan @brett_jordan for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

by Christina Sng for Maths@Singapore

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