Egyptian Numbers

by jenirussell
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Egyptian Numbers

Civilization in Egypt reached a high standard at an early period. Life was good in Egypt. The Nile provided fertile land for farming, and the climate was nice. Egypt was in the middle of the desert, so there were not many people close to them to attack them. Since they did not have to focus on military needs, the country flourished. By 3000 BC two other nations had joined Egypt to be under one ruler. Using wet and dry periods of the year, agriculture was created. The Nile flooded during the rainy season providing fertile land which complex irrigation systems made fertile for growing crops. Knowing when the rainy season was about to arrive was vital and the study of astronomy developed to provide calendar information. The large area covered by the Egyptian nation required complex administration, a system of taxes, and armies had to be supported. As the society became more complex, records required to be kept, and computations done as the people bartered their goods. A need for counting arose, then writing and numerals were needed to record transactions. By 3000 BC the Egyptians had already developed their hieroglyphic writing. This marks the beginning of the Old Kingdom period during which the pyramids were built. For example the Great Pyramid at Giza was built around 2650 BC and it is a remarkable feat of engineering. Hieroglyphs for writing and counting gave way to a hieratic script for both writing and numerals. The Egyptian number systems were not well suited for arithmetical calculations. We are still today familiar with Roman numerals and so it is easy to understand that although addition of Roman numerals is quite satisfactory, multiplication and division are essentially impossible. The Egyptian system had similar drawbacks to that of Roman numerals. However, the Egyptians were very practical in their approach to mathematics and their trade required that they could deal in fractions. Trade also required multiplication and division to be possible so they devised remarkable methods to overcome the deficiencies in the number systems with which they had to work. Basically they had to devise methods of multiplication and division which only involved addition.

Egyptian NumeralsAs Egypt expanded, a way to count and trade arose.

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III + nII = ? ? ?III Are you an Egyptian math wiz?

Anwser= nIIII IIII


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