The invention of mathematics of course as we were all taught in school was by the Greeks right? Mathematical expressions evolved from the principles of counting, numbering and measuring.Well these weren’t so strange to ancient Africa. As a matter of fact, mathematics is one of the major African inventions that are seldom talked about.
Prehistoric artifacts discovered in Africa, dated as far back as 35,000 BC suggest early attempts by Africans to quantify time. Somewhere in the mountains of Lebombo in Swaziland, the oldest known mathematical and measuring device “the Lebombo bone” was discovered. Also, in northeastern Congo, the Ishango bone which consists of series of tally marks carved in columns was found. Archeological experts believe that the Ishango bone represents either a six-month lunar calendar or the earliest known representation of prime numbers.
Lastly, archeological evidence written on papri, suggest that the ancient Egyptians understood concepts of geometry, such as determining the surface area and volume of three-dimensional objects. These were very useful in architectural engineering, algebra, and quadratic equations.
Africa is definitely not left out when it comes to the area of medicine and medical procedure. Many forms of medical treatments in practice today have been practiced in Africa several centuries ago.
The earliest recorded history of surgery in Africa dates back to Herophilus ( 335-280 BC), who established the first medical school in Alexandria, ancient Egypt. The prehistoric African practitioners of the art of surgery invented the sciences of anatomy and physiology. They practiced so many maneuvers such as inducing loss of consciousness so as to achieve regional analgesia.
Ancient African architecture reveals the true nature of the African people as it is deeply rooted in African traditions and culture. The greatest African inventions probably originated from ancient Egypt. They developed a broad array of architectural structures around the Nile region including the great pyramids – considered as one of the great wonders of the ancient world -, the great sphinx of Giza and their monumental obelisks.
The ancient Kingdom of Axum (modern day Ethiopia), was renowned for its giant and expertly carved obelisks that were built at the tombs of ancient Ethiopian Kings. Also, in the the town of Lalibela, about 11 churches beautifully carved out of volcanic tuff rock have been excavated. The level of architecture produced in Axum is huge evidence that the ancient Ethiopian builders were exceptionally skilled at what they did.
Other notable architectural feats of ancient Africa include the impressive city of Timbuktu – famous for its grand palaces, mosques and universities, the Great Zimbabwe, and the Great mosque of Djenne in the ancient Malian Empire – considered as one of the greatest creations of Sahelian architecture.
Metallurgy and Tools
Ancient African inventions also include metallurgy and tool-making. In some parts of Africa especially areas like ancient Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, the great Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia, the advances in tool-making outpaced what was obtainable in Europe at the time. Some of their inventions include metal chisels, iron tools and weapons, nails, bronze weapons and saws.
Most of us were taught in school that the first people to sail across the Atlantic to the Americas were the Europeans. Well, archeological evidence suggest that people from ancient African sailed to South America and Asia hundreds of years before the Europeans did.
It has been reported that many ancient Kingdoms in Africa built large vessels that were as long as 100 feet long. Also, genetic evidence from plants and art descriptions show that ancient West Africans sailed to the eastern coast of South America.
Astronomy can be traced to several ancient African societies like the ancient Egyptians and Dogon people of Mali. The Egyptians studied the movement of the sun and circles of the moon. They developed a calendar system which had the year divided into 12 parts and 3651/4 days. They also invented sundials and clocks with moving water.
The Dogon people of Mali, West Africa are believed to be of Egyptian decent. Their astronomical feats date back to 3200 BC. They were aware of Jupiter’s rings and four moons, Saturn’s rings and the spiral structure of the milky way although these cannot be seen through the naked eyes, but only with powerful telescopes.