Of course, back then, organized agriculture began to dominate and shape society. Thus, for the first time, there was a need to divide up land accurately, work out crop yields, and then at some point collect the appropriate amount of taxes from the farmers of the day. Mathematics made all of that possible.
Move forward seven millennia, to the golden age of science and mathematics which flourished under the Islamic Empire. This golden age, which began in the 9th century and then lasted for 600 years, saw high points such as the widespread adoption of the Hindu numerical system (1-9 and 0) and the development of algebra, the abstract mathematical language we all love and still use today.
Indeed, modern-day students embarked on a master of science in mathematics or similar degree programme might do well to spend a minute or two reflecting on the genius of Persian mathematicians Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi and Muhammad Al-Karaji, both giants of the golden age.
However, if homage is out of the question and the Middle East a little too far away for comfort, there's always the UK to fall back on, even although the competition for a university place gets tougher by the year. But now there could be another option open to students, the degree apprenticeship.
This latest UK government initiative, launched this month (November 2014), allows young people to complete a full honours degree alongside their employment while paying no student fees and earning a wage throughout. Sounds like a very promising idea, one which is likely to prove popular, too.
The scheme will start rolling out in September 2015 and is aimed, in the first instance, at the digital sector. It should particularly suit people embarking on careers ranging from business analysis to software development and technology consultancy.
A fully-integrated degree
And according to the government, the new programme includes a fully-integrated degree, testing both academic learning and on-the-job practical training, and has been co-created by leading tech employers and top universities.
A number of employers involved in the Tech Partnership, a group of firms working together to create the skills and jobs the digital industry needs, have already committed to offering degree apprenticeships.
These include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, CGI, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services.
Universities including Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London, University of the West of England and Winchester will be supporting the courses and are working with employers to offer these degrees.
One million vacancies
Tech Partnership board member and Capgemini UK chairman Christine Hodgson, said, “The government's support for this new route into employment will enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and will help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy.”
It is hoped the initiative will help to fill the one million vacancies expected in the digital sector in the next decade. Prospective apprentices will be able to apply to the companies offering degree apprenticeships once the vacancies are advertised next year. These companies will then work with the relevant universities to select the students most able to be successful in both the degree and their career.
Two-thirds of the costs of the training and course fees will be paid by the government and employers will fund the rest, including the wages of apprentices.