Friday, June 15, 2012

Made to Measure

I thought today we would take some time to talk math and Ancient Egypt, though, I am going to handle it in sections over the next few days. I wanted to start with some Egyptian mathematical firsts.

They were the first to:
-have what a modern person would recognize as a ruler to measure.
-have a standardized measurement system for both architecture and science; including building, math, astronomy, weather studies and the like.
-have a standard of fractions.
-use the number one million, and often millions of millions.
- explore the geometry of hemispheres, circles, rectangles, triangles, cylinders and of course pyramids.
-have examples of multiplication.
-have a calculation to control recipes: beer strength as a function of grain.
- add very small fractions such as 1/500th
-write down problems involving scaling shapes.
-write problems involving calculations of volume.
-write formulas for the area of a circle.

If you are interested in the above you can take a peek at the following resources.
Works of Nora E Scott on the Egyptian Cubit Rods.
Egyptian papyri that contain math topics and math problems:
-Moscow Mathematical Papyrus
-Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll
-Lahun Mathematical Papyri
-Berlin Papyrus (Usually referred to as a medical papyrus due to the inclusion of prenatal medicine and pregnancy test information.)
-Akhmim wooden tablets
-Reisner Papyrus
-Rhind Mathematical Papyrus

A rather poor scan of the Rhind papyrus. approx. 1650 BC

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