When Was Math Invented?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 8:11:19 AM ET

A crude form of math was first invented by the Sumerians in the sixth century BC. Because the Sumerians had developed a settled, agricultural civilization, they needed math as a way to measure plots of land, tax individuals, chart the sky and develop a lunar calendar.

The Sumerians were the first people to use abstract symbols to describe large groups of objects. At first, they used symbols to represent sheaves of wheat. Eventually, they developed cuneiform writing and probably were using a crude abacus by the second century BC.

The Sumerians used the base 60 numeric system. They counted by using the 12 bones of the four fingers on one hand.