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Encyclopedia > Ancient Egyptian mathematics

Egyptian mathematics refers to the style and methods of mathematics performed by scribes in Ancient Egypt, as understood from the rare discoveries of ancient papyri: in particular, the Rhind, or Ahmes, Mathematical Papyrus (RMP), dating from the Second Intermediate Period (though the author identifies it as a copy of a now lost Middle Kingdom papyrus), and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (MMP). The Rhind (Ahmes) Mathematical Papyrus, containing 101 2/n Egyptian fraction series and 84 practical problems, and the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll (EMLR), containing 26 1/n Egyptian fraction series, were donated to the British Museum by Henry Rhind's estate in 1863, and partially read over the next 75 years. In addition, the Reisner Papyrus, housed in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Akhmim (Cairo) Wooden Tablet (AWT), housed in Cairo's main museum, and several other texts, including the Berlin, Kahun, Michigan and about 2,000 medical prescriptions written in additional texts, all found 100 years ago, inform our understanding of Egyptian mathematics. An agreed upon view of scribal arithmetic, especially subtaction and division has not been reached. It appears that common arithmetic threads from the various common texts have not been completely compared and contrasted, a decoding task that is ongoing. For other meanings of mathematics or math, see mathematics (disambiguation). ... Illustration of a 15th century scribe This is about scribe, the profession. ... Kufus Pyramid (4th dynasty) and Great Sphinx of Giza (c. ... Papyrus plant Cyperus papyrus at Kew Gardens, London Papyrus is an early form of paper made from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that grows to 5 meters (15 ft) in height and was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt. ... The Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri are two of the oldest mathematical texts discovered. ... The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt once again fell into disarray between the end of the Middle Kingdom, and the start of the New Kingdom. ... Ahmes (more accurately Ahmose) was an Egyptian scribe who lived during the Second Intermediate Period. ... The Middle Kingdom is: a old name for China a period in the History of Ancient Egypt, the Middle Kingdom of Egypt This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri are two of the oldest mathematical texts discovered. ...

Egyptian addition and multiplication methods employed the method of doubling and halving a known number to approach certain solutions, the easiest aspect of the mathematical texts to decipher. For example, 22 of the EMLR's 26 series are fairly read by the doubling, additive, method. Subtraction and division apparently employed other methods that are still not completely deciphered by the Egyptology and math historian communities, with debate continuing on understanding four (4) of the none-addiitve EMLR series. The method of false position, for example, may have been used for division and simple algebra problems, or may not have. By using an Old Kingdom base 10 binary number system, Middle Kingdom unit fractions, and tables of common 2/nth results, scribes solved several complex mathematical problems, 84 of which are outlined in the RMP, with several of the problems being poorly understood today. In numerical analysis, the false position method or regula falsi method is a root-finding algorithm that combines features from the bisection method and the secant method. ...

One area of current study and debate is scribal remainder arithmetic, a methodology that apparently had been used for subtraction and division by Ahmes and by other scribles, yet poorly reported by scholars. Debates on pinning down the non-additive aspects of scribal subtraction and division elements and methods are ongoing.

The traditional view of Old Kingdom 'additive' scholars reports that Egyptians confined themselves to applications of practical arithmetic with many problems addressing how a number of loaves can be divided equally between a number of men. Most of the modern 'additive' scholars believe that the Egyptians did not think of numbers as abstract quantities, but always thought of specific collections of 8 objects when 8 was mentioned.[citation needed] The problems written in the Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri can be seen as expressed in a practical instructional context, though three abstract definitions of number, and other higher forms of arithmetic have been reported by scholars working solely with the hieratic texts. The three abstract definitions are proposed to be found in the Akhmim Wooden Tablet, the EMLR and the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus. The higher forms of arithmetic included the use of Egyptian fraction series as non-additive subtraction and division remainders. The remainders are seen as being preceeded by a binary series and followed by a scaling factor named ro, and other substitutions methods, a scribal methodology that seems to have birthed the dominate use of Egyptian fractions in the Middle Kingdom. The Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri are two of the oldest mathematical texts discovered. ...




Circa 2700 BC Egyptians introduced the earliest fully developed base 10 numeration system, one that many have mistitled as decimal (since the Egyptian system was not positional). The system allowed for the use of large numbers and also fractions in the form of unit fractions and Eye of Horus fractions, or binary fractions [1]. (Redirected from 2700 BC) (28th century BC - 27th century BC - 26th century BC - other centuries) (4th millennium BC - 3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC) Events 2900 - 2334 BC -- Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period 2775 - 2650 BC -- Second Dynasty wars in Egypt Germination of the Bristlecone pine tree Methuselah... A unit fraction is a rational number written as a fraction where the numerator is one and the denominator is a positive integer. ... Hieroglyphic version of the Eye of Horus The Eye of Horus (originally, The Eye of Ra) is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and power, from the deity Horus or Ra. ...

By 2700 BC, Egyptian construction techniques included precision surveying, marking north by the sun's location at noon. Clear records began to appear by 2,000 BC citing approximations for pi and square roots. Exact statements of number, written arithmetic tables, algebra problems, and practical applications with weights and measures also began to appear around 2,000 BC. (Redirected from 2700 BC) (28th century BC - 27th century BC - 26th century BC - other centuries) (4th millennium BC - 3rd millennium BC - 2nd millennium BC) Events 2900 - 2334 BC -- Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period 2775 - 2650 BC -- Second Dynasty wars in Egypt Germination of the Bristlecone pine tree Methuselah... Surveyor at work with a leveling instrument. ...

Two of the oldest mathematics texts discovered so far are the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (MMP), and the Akhmim Wooden Tablet (AWT) which are Egyptian Middle Kingdom papyri and tablets dated circa 2050 BC - 1800 BC. Like many ancient mathematical texts, the MMP can be seen as "word problems" or "story problems", some of which may have been intended as entertainment. One problem considered a method for finding the volume of a frustum (truncated pyramid) with sides of 2 and 4 units and a height of 6: "Add together this 16 with this 8 and this 4. You get 28. Compute a third of 6. You get 2. Multiply 28 by 2. You get 56. Behold: it is 56. You have found right." [1] The Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri are two of the oldest mathematical texts discovered. ... The Middle Kingdom is: a old name for China a period in the History of Ancient Egypt, the Middle Kingdom of Egypt This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... A frustum is the portion of a solid â€“ normally a cone or pyramid â€“ which lies between two parallel planes cutting the solid. ...

The AWT lists five example divisions of a unit of volume called a hekat, beginning with one hekat valued as 64/64. The divisions by 3, 7, 10, 11 and 13 of are all exact. The scribal notes within the tablet(s) report five two-part answers, the first half being a quotient. For example, writing one hekat as 64/64, divide by 3: (64/64)/3. This gives a quotient 21 with a remainder of 1. Or, writing 21 as 16 + 4 + 1, such that (16 + 4 + 1)/64 = 1/4 + 1/16 + 1/64, as recorded by the scribe for the quotient.

The second half of the two-part answer processed the remainder 1 by factoring out a constant common divisor named ro = 1/320, and then converting 1/(3*64) to (5/3)*ro (since 1/64 = 5/320). The final scribal step converts 5/3 to a fraction series, writing the remainder as (1 + 2/3)ro.

Combining the quotient and remainder into one statement, the 1/3rd of a hekat was written as: 1/4 1/16 1/64 1 2/3 ro. Note that addition and multiplication signs were not used by the scribe. Note also that the AWT scribe wrote out an exact partitioning method that was used by Ahmes and every scribe thereafter whenever grain and volume measurement and algebra was required.

The AWT scribe proved all his results by multiplying its answers by the initial divisor. In the 1/3 hekat case, for example, teh answer was returned to a full hekat by using these steps: (1/4 1/16 1/64 1 2/3 ro) times 3 equals, by first converting to vulgar fractions, or,

(21/64 x 3) = 63/64 + ((1 2/3 1/320) x 3)= 63/64 + 1/64 = 64/64

with (1 2/3 1/320)x 3 = (5/3 x 1/320)x 3 = 5/320 = 1/64

Hana Vymazalova published in 2002 a fresh copy of the AWT that showed that all five AWT divisions had been exact, by parsing the proof steps, returning all to 64/64. Vymazalova thereby updated Daressy's 1906 discussion of the subject that had only found 1/3, 1/7 and 1/10 had been exact. Note that the first half of the quotient and remainder calculation had not been parsed by Vymazalova, ancient facts that were not published until 2005.

The AWT's proposed remainder arithmetic structure is confirmed in the Reisner, RMP and other texts. The simply division, inverse relationship, of one (1) by 2 2/3 which scribes wrote as 1/4 1/8 has been read by scholars in different ways. The simpliest and most direct way is to use vulgar fractions in the missing intermediate steps, steps that the scribes did not include. Note that by adding vulgar fractions to the intermediate steps one (1) divided by 2 2/3 equals 1/(8/3) which equals 3/8, which equals the final scribal answer 1/4 1/8, steps than can be processed mentally, as scribes may have been required to do.

Scholars have proposed scribal division's intermediate steps to have followed several other suppositions, two of the most discussed being, (1) inverse multiplication and, (2) algorithm plus proportion. However, the simpliest method for scribal divisions must be the historical method, as Occam's Razor has been propoerly used to resolve History of Science issues since George Sarton developed the method over 50 years ago.

Given this search for a smple scribal division metgod, many in the math historian and Egyptology communities hold onto the 1920's suppositions that required scribal division to be additive in scope, as noted by integrating facts like 1= 1/1, 1/1= 64/64, 1/64 = 5/320, and 1/320 = ro, such that:

1/3 = 1/3*(64/64)= 64/192 = (63 + 1)/192 = 63/192 + 1/192 = 21/64 + 1/3*(1/64) = (16 + 4 + 1)/64 + 5/3*(1/320) = 1/4 1/16 1/64 1 2/3 ro.

But, were all of these AWT facts only additive?

Continuing the search for the scribal mental details, omitting arithmetic operators (+) and (*), and other facts cited above, researchers had been apparently confused until remainder arithmetic's simple view resolved the issue. Note the algebraic-like substitutions: 1/1 = 64/64, 1/64 = 5/320 and 1/320 = ro, a technique that, in and of itself, may have qualified this form of arithmetic as non-additive, and suggestive of Middle Kingdom abstract thought,facts that are easily and fully read within the proposed remainder arithmetic context.

Beyond the fact that (64/64)/n = Q/64 + (5R/n)*ro fairly states the 2,000 BCE scribal form of hekat division two additional facts may have fairly exposed scribal thinking. One fact is that whenever a divisor n was between 1/64 and 64 (with Q being a quotient and R a remainder), a limit had been reached, as RMP 80 details. Second, to go beyond the limit, hin, ro and other sub-units of the hekat were developed in a one-part format, 10/n hin as explained in RMP 80, and 320/n ro, and so forth in other texts, with n being a divisor.

Scribes like Ahmes were clearly able to go beyond the 64 divisor limit within the two-part remainder arithmetic structure. The advanced two-part method, a primary level of scribal arithmetic, was described in problem 35 as 100 hekat divided by 70. Ahmes wrote 100*(64/64)/70 = (6400/64)/70 = 91/64 + 30/(70*64). The first part was written (64 + 16 + 8 + 2 + 1)/64 =(1 + 1/8 + 1/32+ 1/64). Ahmes then wrote out the second part as (150/70)*1/320 = (2 + 1/7)ro, as partially reported by Robins-Shute), by following rules set down in the 350 year older Akhmim Wooden Tablet.

The Rhind papyrus (circa 1650 BC) is another major Egyptian mathematical text, an instruction manual in arithmetic and geometry. In addition to giving area formulas and methods for multiplication, division and working with unit fractions, it also contains evidence of other mathematical knowledge (see [2]), including composite and prime numbers; arithmetic, geometric and harmonic means; and simplistic understandings of both the Sieve of Eratosthenes and perfect number theory[3]. It also shows how to solve first order linear equations [4] as well as summing arithmetic and geometric series [5]. The Moscow and Rhind Mathematical Papyri are two of the oldest mathematical texts and perhaps our best indication of what ancient Egyptian mathematics might have been like near 2000 BC. They are both written on papyrus. ... A composite number is a positive integer which has a positive divisor other than one or itself. ... In mathematics, a prime number (or a prime) is a natural number that has exactly two (distinct) natural number divisors, which are 1 and the prime number itself. ... In mathematics and statistics, the arithmetic mean (or simply the mean) of a list of numbers is the sum of all the members of the list divided by the number of items in the list. ... The geometric mean of a set of positive data is defined as the nth root of the product of all the members of the set, where n is the number of members. ... In mathematics, the harmonic mean is one of several methods of calculating an average. ... In mathematics, the Sieve of Eratosthenes is a simple, ancient algorithm for finding all prime numbers up to a specified integer. ... In mathematics, a perfect number is defined as an integer which is the sum of its proper positive divisors, that is, the sum of the positive divisors not including the number. ... A linear equation is an equation involving only the sum of constants or products of constants and the first power of a variable. ... // Definition In mathematics, an arithmetic series is the sum of the components of an arithmetic progression. ... In mathematics, a geometric progression is a sequence of numbers such that the quotient of any two successive members of the sequence is a constant called the common ratio of the sequence. ...

Finally, the Berlin papyrus, written around 1300 BC, shows that ancient Egyptians had solved two second-order Diophantine equations, though the Berlin method for solving x2 + y2 = 100 has not been confirmed in a second hieratic text. [6]. The Berlin papyrus is an ancient Egyptian papyrus document that was created circa 1800 BCE. This papyrus was found at the Saqqara ancient Egyptian burial ground in the early 19th Century. ... In mathematics, a Diophantine equation is an equation between two polynomials with integer coefficients with any number of unknowns. ...



Main article: Egyptian numerals The system of Egyptian numerals was a numeral system used in ancient Egypt. ...

Two number systems were used in ancient Egypt. One, written in hieroglyphs, was a decimal based tally system with separate symbols for 10, 100, 1000, etc, as Roman numerals were later written, and hieratic unit fractions. The second, written in a new ciphered one number-to-one symbol system was a digital system that was not similar to hieroglyphic system. The hieroglyphic number system existed from at least the Early Dynastic Period. The hieratic system differed from the hieroglyphic system beyond a use of simplifying ligatures for rapid writing and began around 2150 BC. Hieratic numerals used one symbol for each number replacing the tallies that had been used to denote multiples of a number unit. For example, two symbols had been used to write three, thirty, three hundred, and so on, in a system that was superceded by the hieratic method (in all situations beyond the most spiritual of texts). Later hieroglyphic numeration was modified and adopted by the Romans for official uses, and Egyptian fractions in everyday situations. A number is an abstract entity that represents a count or measurement. ... A hieroglyph is one part of an ideographic writing system that is often found carved in stone. ... The decimal (base ten or occasionally denary) numeral system has ten as its base. ... Tally may refer to Tally stick Tally marks Tally (voting) Tally (accounting) A commercial accounting software package very populour in India. ... A unit fraction is a rational number written as a fraction where the numerator is one and the denominator is a positive integer. ... Digit may refer to: A finger or a toe Numerical digit, as used in mathematics or computer science Digit (unit), an ancient meterological unit Digit (magazine), an Indian information technology magazine This is a disambiguation page: a list of articles associated with the same title. ... The Early Dynastic Period of Egypt is taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from 2920 BC, following the Protodynastic Period of Egypt, until 2575 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. ... In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more letterforms are written or printed as a unit. ...

The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus was written in hieratic. It contains examples of how the Egyptians did their mathematical calculations. Fractions were denoted by placing a line over the letter n associated with the number being written, as 1/n. This method of writing numbers came to dominate the Ancient Near East, with Greeks 1,500 years later using two of their alphabets, Ionian and Doric, to cipher all of their numerals, alpha = 1, beta = 2 and so forth. Concerning fractions, Greeks wrote 1/n as n', so Greek numeration and problem solving adopted or modified Egyptian numeration, arithmetic and other aspects of Egyptian math as Plato and many other Greeks have fairly reported.



It has been suggested that Ancient Egyptian multiplication be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

Egyptian multiplication was done by repeated doubling of the number to be multiplied (the multiplicand), and choosing which of the doublings to add together (essentially a form of binary arithmetic), a method that links to the Old Kingdom. The multiplicand was written next to the figure 1; the multiplicand was then added to itself, and the result written next to the number 2. The process was continued until the doublings gave a number greater than half of the multiplier. Then the doubled numbers (1, 2, etc.) would be repeatedly subtracted from the multiplier to select which of the results of the existing calculations should be added together to create the answer. Image File history File links Please see the file description page for further information. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Peasant multiplication. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Peasant multiplication. ... In mathematics, multiplication is an elementary arithmetic operation. ... The binary numeral system (base 2 numerals) represents numeric values using two symbols, typically 0 and 1. ... There are several things called a Multiplier. ...

As a short cut for larger numbers, the multiplicand can also be immediately multiplied by 10, 100, etc.

For example, Problem 69 on the Rhind Papyrus (RMP) provides the following illustration, as if Hieroglyphic symbols were used (rather than the RMP's actual hieratic script).

To multiply 80 × 14
Egyptian calculation Modern calculation
Result Multiplier Result Multiplier

80 1

/ 800 10

160 2

/ 320 4

[= hiero] 1120 14

The / denotes the intermediate results that are added together to produce the final answer.

See also: Peasant multiplication

Hieratic and Middle Kingdom math followed this form of hieroglyphic multiplication. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Ancient Egyptian multiplication. ...

Subtraction defined in the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll (EMLR), an 1800 BC document, included four additive or identity methods, followed by one non-additive, abstract, method that was used five to fifteen times for the 26 EMLR series listed, that looked like this:

1/pq = (1/A)* (A/pq)

with A = 3, 4, 5, 7, 25, citing A = (p + 1) 10 times.

1/8 was written using A = (2 + 1)= 3, the A = (p + 1) case, as used in the RMP 24 times, seeing p = 2, q = 4 and A = 25, following

A = 3: 1/8 = (1/3)*(3/8) = 1/3*(1/4 + 1/8) = 1/12 + 1/24

A = 25: 1/8 = 1/25*(25/8) = 1/5*(25/40)= 1/5 *(24/40 + 1/40)

 = 1/5*(3/5 + 1/40) = 1/5*(1/5 + 2/5 + 1/40) = 1/5 *(1/5 + 1/3 + 1/15 + 1/40) = 1/25 + 1/15 + 1/75 + 1/200 

with the out-of-order 1/25 + 1/15 sequence marking the scribal method of partition.

Confirmation of the EMLR (1/A)* (A/pq), with A = (p + 1) rule is found 24 times in the RMP 2/nth table, using the form

2/pq = (2/A)* (A/pq), with A = (p + 1)

example, 2/27, a = 3, q = 9

2/27 = 2/(3 + 1)*(3 + 1)/9 = 1/4*(1/3 + 1/9) = 1/12 + 1/36

Another subtraction method is seen in the RMP 2/nth table as first suggested by F. Hultsch in 1895, and confirmed by E.M. Bruins in 1944, or

2/p - 1/A = (2A - p)/Ap


2/p = 1/A + (2A -p)/Ap

where the divisors of A, from the first partition, were used to additively find (2A - p), thereby exactly solving (2A -p)/Ap.


2/19 - 1/12 = (24 - 19)/(12*19)

with the divisors of 12 = 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 being inspected to find (24 - 19) = 5 taken only from the divisors of 12. Optimally (3 + 2) was selected, by Ahmes and other scribes, over (4 + 1) such that,

2/19 = 1/12 + (3 + 2)/(12*19) = 1/12 + 1/76 + 1/114



Main article: Egyptian fraction A modern definition of an Egyptian fraction says that a sum of distinct unit fractions (that is, fractions whose numerators are equal to 1) whose denominators are positive integers, and all of whose denominators differ from each other. ...

Rational numbers could also be expressed, but only as sums of unit fractions, i.e. sums of reciprocals of positive integers, 2/3, and 3/4. The hieroglyph indicating a fraction looked like a mouth, which meant "part", and fractions were written with this fractional solidus, i.e. the numerator 1, and the positive denominator below. Special symbols were used for 1/2 and for two non-unit fractions, 2/3 (used frequently) and 3/4 (used less frequently). In mathematics, a rational number (commonly called a fraction) is a ratio or quotient of two integers, usually written as the vulgar fraction a/b, where b is not zero. ... A unit fraction is a rational number written as a fraction where the numerator is one and the denominator is a positive integer. ... In mathematics, the reciprocal, or multiplicative inverse, of a number x is the number which, when multiplied by x, yields 1. ... The integers consist of the positive natural numbers (1, 2, 3, …), their negatives (−1, −2, −3, ...) and the number zero. ...

Problem 25 on the Rhind Papyrus may have used the method of false position to solve the problem "a quantity and its half added together become 16; what is the quantity?" (i.e., in modern algebraic notation, what is x if xx=16). In numerical analysis, the false position method or regula falsi method is a root-finding algorithm that combines features from the bisection method and the secant method. ... Algebra is a branch of mathematics concerning the study of structure, relation and quantity. ...

Assume 2

 1 2 / ½ 1 / Total 1½ 3 

As many times as 3 must be to give 16, so many times must 2 be multiplied to give the answer.

 1 3 / 2 6 4 12 / 2/3 2 1/3 1 / 

Total 5 1/3 16


 1 5 1/3 (1 + 4 + 1/3) 2 10 2/3 

The answer is 10 2/3.

Check -

 1 10 2/3 ½ 5 1/3 

Total 1½ 16

A more likely and direct approach to solve this class of problem is given by: x + (1/2)x = 16, using these steps

1. (3/2)x = 16, 2. x = 32/3, 3. x = 10 2/3.

Note that RMP 31 has been shown not to have been solved by Ahmes using 'false position'. If any one can show an explicit Ahmes view of false position, please publish the proposed steps here (taken from Ahmes' shorthand).

Problem 31 sets the problem "q quantity, its 1/3, its 1/2 and its 1/7, added together, become 33; what is the quantity?" In modern algebraic notation, "what is x if x + 1/3 x + 1/2 x + 1/7 x =33?" The answer is 14 1/4 1/56 1/97 1/194 1/388 1/679 1/776, or 14 and 28/97. To solve the problem as Ahmes wrote his answer 28/97 had to be broken up into 2/97 and 26/97, and solved the two separate vulgar fraction conversion problems using Hultsch-Bruins (without using false position, as other algebra problem may have been solved).

The remainder arithmetic solution, the historical method that is most likely, for x + (1/3)x + (1/2)x + (1/7)x = 33 looks like this:

1. 97/42 x = 33, 2. x = 1386/97, and 3. x = 14 + 28/97.

with, 2/97 - 1/56 = (112 - 97)/(56*97) = (8 + 7)/(56*97) = 1/679 1/776,

and 26/97 - 1/4 = (104-97/(4*97) = (4 + 2 + 1)/(4*97)= 1/97 1/194 1/388,


2/97 = 1/56 1/670 1/776,

26/97 = 1/4 1/97 1/194 1/388

such that, writing out x = 14 + 28/97 in an ordered unit fraction series

4. x = 14 1/4 1/56 1/97 1/194 1/388 1/679 1/776, as written by Ahmes.



Problem 50 of the Ahmes papyrus uses these methods to calculate the area of a circle, according to a rule that the area is equal to the square of 8/9 of the circle's diameter (so 1/9 is subtracted from the diameter, and the resulting figure is multiplied by itself, using the doubling method). This assumes that π is 4×(8/9)² (or 3.160493...), with an error of slightly over 0.63 percent. This value was slightly less accurate than the calculations of the Babylonians (25/8 = 3.125, within 0.53 percent), but was not otherwise surpassed until Archimedes' approximation of 211875/67441 = 3.14163, which had an error of just over 1 in 10,000). // When a circles diameter is 1, its circumference is Ï€. The mathematical constant Ï€ is an irrational real number, approximately equal to 3. ... Babylonia, named for its capital city, Babylon, was an ancient state in the south part of Mesopotamia (in modern Iraq), combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... Archimedes (Greek: Αρχιμήδης ) (c. ...

Problem 48 involved using a square with side 9 units. This square was cut into a 3x3 grid. The diagonal of the corner squares were used to make an irregular octagon with an area of 63 units. This gave a second value for π of 3.111... // When a circles diameter is 1, its circumference is Ï€. The mathematical constant Ï€ is an irrational real number, approximately equal to 3. ...

The two problems together indicate a range of values for Pi between 3.11 and 3.16.


See also


Babylonian mathematics refers to any mathematics of the peoples of Mesopotamia, from the days of the early Sumerians to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC. In contrast to the sparcity of sources in Egyptian mathematics, our knowledge of Babylonian mathematics is derived from some 400 clay tablets unearthed since... Greek mathematics, as that term is used in this article, is the mathematics written in Greek, developed from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE around the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. ...


  1. ^ Van der Waerden, 1961, Plate 5

External links


Further reading

  • Boyer, Carl B., "History of Mathematics", John Wiley, 1968. Reprint Princeton U. Press (1985).
  • Chace, Arnold Buffum. 1927–1929. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus: Free Translation and Commentary with Selected Photographs, Translations, Transliterations and Literal Translations. 2 vols. Classics in Mathematics Education 8. Oberlin: Mathematical Association of America. (Reprinted Reston: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1979). ISBN 0-87353-133-7
  • Clagett, Marshall. 1999. Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book. Volume 3: Ancient Egyptian Mathematics. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society 232. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. ISBN 0-87169-232-5
  • Couchoud, Sylvia. 1993. Mathématiques égyptiennes: Recherches sur les connaissances mathématiques de l'Égypte pharaonique. Paris: Éditions Le Léopard d'Or
  • Daressy, G. " Ostraca, Cairo Museo des Antiquities Egyptiennes Catalogue General Ostraca hieraques, vol 1901, number 25001-25385.
  • Gillings, Richard J., "Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs", MIT, Press, 1972 (Dover reprints available).
  • Neugebauer, Otto, "Exact Sciences in Antiquity" Harper & Row, 1962, Dover Reprint (1969).
  • Peet, Thomas Eric. 1923. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, British Museum 10057 and 10058. London: The University Press of Liverpool limited and Hodder & Stoughton limited
  • Robins, R. Gay. 1995. "Mathematics, Astronomy, and Calendars in Pharaonic Egypt". In Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, edited by Jack M. Sasson, John R. Baines, Gary Beckman, and Karen S. Rubinson. Vol. 3 of 4 vols. New York: Charles Schribner's Sons. (Reprinted Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000). 1799–1813
  • Robins, R. Gay, and Charles C. D. Shute. 1987. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus: An Ancient Egyptian Text. London: British Museum Publications Limited. ISBN 0-7141-0944-4
  • Sarton, George "Introduction to the History of Science", Vol I, Willians & Williams, 1927.
  • Struve, Vasilij Vasil'evič, and Boris Aleksandrovič Turaev. 1930. Mathematischer Papyrus des Staatlichen Museums der Schönen Künste in Moskau. Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte der Mathematik; Abteilung A: Quellen 1. Berlin: J. Springer
  • Van der Waerden, B.L., "Science Awakening", Oxford U. Press, 1961.
  • Vymazalova, Hana, "Wooden Tablets from Cairo .... Archiv Orientalni, Vol I, pages 27-42, 2002.



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