Egyptian mathematics

The Egyptians wrote on papyrus, a fragile medium which rarely survives the centuries. Our knowledge of their mathematics is scanty, deriving mainly from just two primary sources, the Moscow papyrus (c.1850 BC) and the Rhind papyrus (c.1650 BC). These papyri include tables of fractions and several dozen solved problems in arithmetic and geometry, probably designed for the teaching of scribes and accountants. The problems range from division exercises involving the sharing of a number of loaves in specified proportions to calculating the volume of a cylindrical granary of given diameter and height. The Egyptians used a decimal system for counting and calculation.

Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and reckoning, depicted with the head of an ibis, has been credited as the inventor of hieroglyphs, the Egyptian form of writing.

[Austria 1965; East Germany 1981; Egypt 1925, 1969]


Published/edited: 22/10/2015