The ethnology of numbers

Numerals are among the oldest examples of human writing. They have been found as notches in stone as early as the Old Stone Age. In the early Babylonian and Egyptian civilisations, a more sophisticated number system was developed to cope with administrative requirements. Other cultures and primitive peoples managed with a much more limited number system. Some peoples of the South Seas never exceeded the value of ten in their calculations.

The exhibition explains how the Eipo people of New Guinea used their bodies to show numbers. An interactive installation by Tobias Grewenig portrays man in the form of numbers. 

Illustration by Nadia Budde
Illustration by Nadia Budde