Recent archeological research offers revolutionary insight about the precursor of abstract counting and pictographic as well as ideographic writing. This precursor was a data processing system in which simple (and later complex) clay tokens of various shapes were aggregated in hollow clay receptacles or envelopes (and later sealed string systems) to represent symbolically assets and economic transactions. Scores of such tokens (the recent explanation of which is due to Prof. Schmandt-Besserat) were found by archeologists all over the Fertile Crescent in layers belonging to the time between 8000 B.C. to 3100 B.C. — after this date cuneiform clay tablets emerged.
The economic-philosophic implications of this discovery are important. First, it suggests that accounting preceded abstract counting as well as writing. Second, it suggests that conceptual representation emerged gradually. Third, it confirms the previous hypotheses that counting emerged in several stages. Fourth, it reveals the existence of an abstract input-output principle some 10,000 years ago and a kind of double entry over 5,000 years ago. Finally, it offers the earliest illustration of the (occasional) validity of the correspondence theory.
To assist readers I have inserted at the beginning of the fifth section some explanatory paragraphs on Wittgenstein's work.