Astonishing epigraphical evidence unearthed in southern Arabia proves fingers were first used for counting goats, camels and wives
Some clever people in ancient Arabia, or maybe in eastern Africa before they crossed the southern end of the Red Sea, needed to express numbers. They had no paper, no pens and pencils and definitely no computers, scientists claim.
The story goes that a pretty girl harassed by almost half the young men of a tribe of 100 members or so, was given the option of choosing just one young man and not the ten she liked. To do so, each of the 10 finalists had to choose a mark by which the girl can identify him from a good distance.
With no iPads available, yet, the chieftain of the tribe allocated each young man a symbol created by a different hand and finger formation. To keep her chosen one a secret, so as to avoid getting his throat slit at night by nine angry stone daggers firmly held by nine very angry young men, she had to scratch the symbol identifying the finalist on a stone dagger made for the occasion. Her chosen one was to be revealed to the tribe on a special betrothal occasion the following Saturday, or whatever name the day was called.
The orientalists of the East India Company will tell you a different story, but the above is the most likely one as it is epigraphically proven.
Here are the ten symbols used by the ten anxious young men:
It should be noted that historically people scribbled, or scratched surfaces, from right to left. Here is a plate that proves how identical the numerals produced to the actual physical hand and finger formations. The plate combines both the eastern Arabic numerals and the western (English) numerals whose origin will be explained a bit later:
Probably five or fifty thousands years later, Europe was gradually populated and some needed numerals to count the famous Charlemagne silver pennies. Meanwhile in Spain, which was named Andalusia by Arab conquerors, a mixed Iberian-Arab generation thrived and so were bilingualism and numeralism. A clever Andalusia mathematician reversed the eastern Arabic numerals and produced a different numeral creature known as Western Arabic numerals.
Here is his creation preserved in a famous manuscript:
A bit of refining of the shapes of western Arabic numerals brought perfection to the European sisters of their oriental concubines. Here is the final outcome:
Unfortunately for our prehistoric brave heroine, none of the finalists was suitable for casual foreplay let alone sleeping with. When the supposed betrothal ceremony was at last held , her scratched dagger was presented to the judges. Instead of the number she was supposed to have scratched with a fibreglass pencil, the judges were astounded to discover that the pretty girl had invented a symbol fit for both the occasion and her own opinion of the finalists.
Alongside the Arabic numeral system, her symbol was universally adopted and is still widely used by all sophisticated societies.
Here it is freshly unearthed in south west Saudi Arabia: