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Lebombo bone




One of the oldest mathematical artifacts known, a small piece of the fibula of a baboon, found near Border Cave in the Lebombo Mountains between South Africa and Swaziland. Discovered in the 1970s during excavations of Border Cave and dated about 35,000 BC, the Lebombo bone is marked with 29 clearly defined notches. This suggests it may have been used as a lunar phase counter, in which case African women may have been the first mathematicians since keeping track of menstrual cycles requires a lunar calendar. Certainly, the Lebombo bone resembles calendar sticks still used by Bushmen in Namibia.


Related entry

   • Ishango bone


Related category

   • HISTORY OF MATHEMATICS