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The Egyptian Number System

McKenzy Mize

McKenzy Mize

on 13 December 2012

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Transcript of The Egyptian Number System

photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli By McKenzy Mize The Egyptian Number System Symbols The symbols that were used for representing numbers in the Egyptian number system had meaning to the Egyptian culture. They depicted their numbers by drawing what they heard.
1 is shown by a single stroke.
10 is shown by a drawing of a hobble for cattle.
100 is represented by a coil of rope.
1,000 is a drawing of a lotus plant.
10,000 is represented by a finger.
100,000 by a tadpole or frog
1,000,000 is the figure of a god with arms raised above his head. The Concept of Zero The Egyptians did not have a concept of zero.
When zero was used, it was written down as a blank space. This is what the majority of researchers say, but some have found that the concept of zero is actually transposed as a "triliteral hieroglyph". This was the same hieroglyph used to represent beauty, goodness, or completion. This is ironic because zero usually means without completion or without goodness because it has no wholeness to it. What base did the number system use? The Egyptians use a base of ten. The order of the numbers they use is called a unary system. This means that you can write a number in any order and still figure out what it means. Most ancient civilizations use a base ten system because we have ten fingers and they are easy to count with. Mathematical Operations Addition-
The Egyptians used the method of addition that most civilizations use by adding things to eachother. The Egyptians would begin with combining the units, then the tens, hundreds, thousands and so on. Comparing the Egyptian system to the Hindu-Arabic system Both systems have symbols representing numbers, but the Hindu-Arabic system has a different symbol for each individual number and the Egyptian system does not.
Some researchers say that the Hindu-Arabic system uses the place value system while the Egyptian system does not.
Both use the base system of ten for counting and numerical value.
The Hindu-Arabic system is used for positional notation in a decimal system and the Egyptian system does not use the decimal system at all. Comparing the Egyptian system to our current number system Our current number system uses numbers and not pictures to represent numbers.
Our current number system uses many complex mathematical equations and methods that the Egyptian system cannot because it does not have the right tools and/or symbols.
Our current number system uses the place value system as well as the concept of zero and the Egyptian does not use either of these. How old is this system? The Egyptian number system dates back to 3000 BC when hieroglyphics were "created".
The Rhind Papyrus was the first written piece that was found to have ancient Egyptian mathematical equations. The Rhind papyrus was a rich primary source of ancient Egyptian mathematics, containing 84 worked problems and describing the Egyptian methods of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing with whole numbers and fractions, the solution of linear equations and the measurement of simple areas and volumes. Did they have a place value system? The Egyptians did not have a place value system because they believed in simplicity. They wanted their system to be easy to understand and also write. They also wrote from right to left. The number system went from one and could go up as high as a million. Background Information -The ancient Egyptians wrote their numerical system on papyrus, stone and pottery.
-The Egyptian language was composed of heiroglyphs, pictorial signs that represent people, animals, plants, and numbers.
-They used a written numeration that was transformed into hieroglyphic writing which gave them the tools to write numbers up to 1,000,000. Subtraction-
Subtraction was done much the same way as we do it except that when one has to borrow, it is done with writing ten symbols instead of a single one. Multiplication-
When multiplying they would begin with the number they were multiplying by and double it for each line. Then they went back and picked out the numbers in the first column that added up to the first number. They used the distributive property of multiplication over addition. Division-
When using division, they looked at the equation from a multiplication point of view. They flipped the division equation around so that the question read what number multiplies by this number to get this answer instead of what number divided by this number gets this answer. Sources Used 1. De Roeck, K. (n.d.). The story of numbers. http://mathsforeurope.digibel.be/story.htm
2. Edkins, J. (2006). Ancient egyptian numbers. http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/egypt/intro.htm
3. Holt, L. (1982). Number systems. http://www.math.wichita.edu/history/topics/num-sys.html
4. Lumpkin, B. (2003). The ancient egyptian concept of zero. http://www.ethnomath.org/resources/ISGEm/084.htm
5. Millmore, M. (1997). Ancient egyptian number hieroglyphs. http://www.eyelid.co.uk/numbers.htm
6. O'Connor, J. J., & Robertson, E. F. (2000, 12). Egyptian numerals. http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Egyptian_numerals.html
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