Saturday, June 16, 2012

Numbers game

The Ancient Egyptians had separate hieroglyphs for numbers. Unlike our modern language where we have numbers (1,2,3....) and words for them (one, two, three...) the Egyptians had one symbol that meant both the numeral and the word. For the Ancient Egyptians words and symbols went hand in hand so there is no surprise in knowing the hieroglyphs given for a number were related to spiritual and cultural connection of those numbers.

1-9 are simply tick marks. Part of the reason for the first nine being tick marks is because it is believed that the human mind can instantly recognize single digit numbers without counting.

10 is a cattle hobble. This is something that would partially bind the cattle's legs so they could walk but not run. It is believed that like many African cultures the Egyptians saw 10 cattle as almost a base currency.

100 is a coil of rope. This is likely due to a connection to work and labor. "Gangs" of workers in Egypt are sometimes listed as 100 men.

1,000 is a lotus flower. The lotus was the number of joy and satisfaction.

10,000 is the upraised finger. This is a symbol of command which makes sense for a number like 10,000 which would be the count of a very large army or contingent of workers in Ancient Egypt

100,000 is the tadpole symbol of rebirth. 100,000 is related to cosmic cycles in Egyptian mythology.

1,000,000 is a man/god raising his hands in praise. Million was a sacred number reserved most often for offerings or blessings to deities or pharaohs. ex. May he live in peace for millions of years or may he find himself satisfied with millions of loaves of bread.

That's a little on numbers. We'll continue this discussion tomorrow or the next day with fractions.

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