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Forum LockedIshango bone

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dieheart View Drop Down

Joined: 04-Apr-2009
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    Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 12:31

The Ishango bone is a bone tool, dated to the Upper Paleolithic era, about 18000 to 20000 BC. It is a dark brown length of bone, the fibula of a baboon,[1] with a sharp piece of quartz affixed to one end, perhaps for engraving or writing. It was first thought to be a tally stick, as it has a series of tally marks carved in three columns running the length of the tool, but some scientists have suggested that the groupings of notches indicate a mathematical understanding that goes beyond counting.

The Ishango bone was found in 1960 by Belgian Jean de Heinzelin de Braucourt while exploring what was then the Belgian Congo.[2] It was discovered in the African area of Ishango, which was centered near the headwaters of the Nile River at Lake Edward (now on the border between modern-day Uganda and Congo). The lakeside Ishango population of 20000 years ago may have been one of the first counting societies, but it lasted only a few hundred years before being buried by a volcanic eruption.[3]

The artifact was first estimated to originate between 9000 BC and 6500 BC.[4] However, the dating of the site where it was discovered was re-evaluated, and is now believed to be more than 20,000 years old.[5][6]

The Ishango bone is on permanent exhibition at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.[7]


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