Prehistoric numerals

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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.

Background[edit]

Numerals originally developed from the use of tally marks as a counting aid, with the oldest examples being about 35,000 to 25,000 years old.

Development[edit]

Counting aids like tally marks 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 world[edit]

New world[edit]

Early numerals in Unicode[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

Sources cited[edit]

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

External links[edit]