Over ten thousand years ago the needs of society to be able to account for economic transactions led to the development of accounting tokens made of clay. In a world in which writing and numbering had not emerged, the attributes of the economic transactions had to be represented by shape and size, as well as incised markings. Changes in the accounting system coincided with changes in the social structure and economic advancement. These tokens were the genesis of writing and numbering. The use of pictographs led to a large variety of signs; finally, when the signs assumed a sound value in addition to the commodity, writing and speech were united. The tokens also provided the necessary seriation and one-one correspondence necessary to develop counting as well as higher cognitive structures. This article compares the archeological evidence regarding the development of the tokens to the theories and experiments of Piaget, concerning the development of numbering and cognitive structures. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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