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I am preparing a series of lectures on the history of mathematics. Of course my lessons contain already sections about Egyptian and Arabian mathematics. But I don't know about mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa except the famous Ishango bone. Are there topics or hints to literature available? Modern achievements would also be welcome.

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    $\begingroup$ See related chapters of Mathematics Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Mathematics. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2017 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget Sumarian and Babylonian math. Read anything you can get your hands on by Eleanor Robson. $\endgroup$
    – mobileink
    Apr 22, 2017 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ the major badass here is Jens Hoyrup. akira.ruc.dk/~jensh I'm not sure if he's done anything re: subsaharan math, tho. Problem is they had no writing systems. but they surely had math. $\endgroup$
    – mobileink
    Apr 22, 2017 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ Google search for "mathematics in Sub-Saharan Africa" brings up a number of interesting results including Gerdes's paper:"This article presents an overview of research findings and of sources on or related to mathematics in the history of Africa south of the Sahara. Topics such as counting and numeration systems, mathematical games and puzzles, geometry, graphs, and continental and international connections are included." $\endgroup$
    – Conifold
    Apr 23, 2017 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to the Ishango bone, George Gheverghese Joseph,"The Crest of the Peacock" mentions the Yoruba counting system which uses base 20 in conjunction with both multiplicative (as in Danish or French) and subtractive features: 50 = 3*20-10. He speculates that this may have originated in the practice of counting cowry shells, and demonstrates the multiplication of two two-digit numbers. The book mentions that this is not a written system; no estimates as to the age of the system are given. $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Apr 26, 2017 at 6:22

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I've seen mentioned before, and played only a couple of times, a game in the Gebet'a or "Mancala" family of games. This family of games dates back at least until 700 BC. You could go through a brief history of these games. They seem like a good bet, and I could definitely see how they'd have enough depth to be studied mathematically. That might be too focused though, I don't know.

http://taneter.org/math.html

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