Who Invented Numbers and Counting?

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The first use of numbers and counting cannot be traced to one specific individual in ancient times. It is unknown because learning to count is a discovery and not an invention. It is believed that numbers and counting were first used almost 32,000 years ago.

The first systems of counting and identifying numbers were much simpler than today. Based on markings found on bone, it is believed that a simple tallying system was the first counting system used by early humans. An ordinal system was developed when humans began using their fingers to count objects. These simple methods progressed to the more complex place value systems developed by the Mayans in 3400 B.C. and the Egyptians in 3100 B.C.