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Egyptian Numerals


Date: 10/14/98 at 12:08:18
From: toni bandera
Subject: Egyptian numerals

Hi, I've searched all over, but I still can't find any information 
about Egyptian numerals. Can you please give me a site or some 
information on them?


Date: 10/14/98 at 12:47:01
From: Doctor Rick
Subject: Re: Egyptian numerals

Hi, Toni. 

Here is one site that briefly describes the Hieroglyphic form of Egyptian
numerals:

http://www.eyelid.co.uk/numbers.htm

  http://www.eyelid.co.uk/numbers.htm   

You can also look them up in the Encyclopedia Britannica - an older 
edition has a good article "Numerals and Numeral Systems" that includes 
both systems.

The hieroglyphic system had symbols for 1, 10, 100, 1000, etc., and 
that's all. To write numbers, you just repeated the symbols as many 
times as you needed, just like paying an amount of money with so many 
pennies, dimes, and dollars. So, you'd write 543 as

  100, 100, 100, 100, 100, 10, 10, 10, 10, 1, 1, 1

(using a single symbol for each number - see the Web sites for the
symbols).

The hieratic system had a lot more symbols: separate symbols for 1, 
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 200, 
300, etc. The demotic system was similar. You would write 543 as:

  500, 40, 3

Can you see advantages and disadvantages of each system? How do they 
differ from our place-value system? Can you imagine growing up learning 
only Eqyptian numbers? How would you do math?

Here is a page that has a little about how the Egyptians did math. 
Addition isn't hard (it's basically just counting) but multiplication 
is very hard, and they found a way to do it that has something in 
common with how computers work! Check it out:

http://history.math.csusb.edu/HistTopics/Babylonian_and_Egyptian.html   

- Doctor Rick, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
Elementary Math History/Biography
Elementary Number Sense/About Numbers
Middle School History/Biography
Middle School Number Sense/About Numbers

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