Wednesday, July 28, 2021

I Should Be Writing About Anything Else Today , So Let's Talk About Tally Marks

I was struck by a thought (with significant force, right across the forehead) about tally marks. You know, these:

My question concerns the fifth tally mark after you've already made four: why do tally across or diagonally? 

I understand that sets of five are easier for people to count. What I can't find, though, is when this started. Incredibly, Google has failed to enlighten on this subject. 

I did find a very interesting article about tally marks in different cultures: “正”, the Chinese Tally Mark And Other Kinds of Tally Marks from Around the World. Different systems, obviously, and some with ingenious variations. 

There is one interesting fact in Wikipedia (Tally marks):
Counting aids other than body parts appear in the Upper Paleolithic. The oldest tally sticks date to between 35,000 and 25,000 years ago, in the form of notched bones found in the context of the European Aurignacian to Gravettian and in Africa's Late Stone Age.

Also Bobby Kotick apparently reads Dubious Quality, if this is any indication: Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick’s letter addressing the harassment allegations. Thanks, Bobby!

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