Africa and Mathematics

From Colonial Findings Back to the Ishango Rods

  • Dirk Huylebrouck

Part of the Mathematics, Culture, and the Arts book series (MACUAR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Mathematics in the Heart of Africa

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 3-18
    3. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 19-33
    4. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 35-53
    5. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 55-76
    6. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 77-105
  3. The Ishango Rod(s)

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 125-125
    2. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 127-140
    3. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 141-151
    4. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 153-166
    5. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 167-176
    6. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 177-188
  4. Epilogue

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 189-189
    2. Dirk Huylebrouck
      Pages 191-215
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 217-229

About this book


This volume on ethnomathematics in Central Africa fills a gap in the current literature, focusing on a region rarely explored by other publications. It highlights the discovery of the Ishango rod, which was found to be the oldest mathematical tool in humanity's history, thereby shifting the origin of mathematics to the heart of Africa, and explores the different scientific hypotheses that emerged as a result. While it contains some high-level mathematics, the non-mathematical reader can easily skip these portions and enjoy the book’s survey of African history, culture, and art.


ethnomathematics sand drawings crystallography African fractals hieroglyph algorithm Ishango rod

Authors and affiliations

  • Dirk Huylebrouck
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeuvenGhentBelgium

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-04036-9
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-04037-6
  • Series Print ISSN 2520-8578
  • Series Online ISSN 2520-8586
  • Buy this book on publisher's site