The Ishango Bone – Is This The World’s Oldest Mathematical Artefact?

Most people think that the study of mathematics has its origins in Ancient Egypt and Babylonia, but this view was dramatically challenged in the 1950’s with the discovery of a small animal bone, inscribed with markings that appear to represent numbers.

This artefact was discovered in the small African fishing village of Ishango, on the border of Zaire and Uganda by the Belgian geologist Jean de Heinzelin.

The Ishango Bone now lies at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels, and has been dated to around 20,000 BC. It is thought to be the oldest mathematical artefact ever discovered.

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