Friday, January 26, 2007

Mathematics in Ancient Egypt

"The Greeks developed mathematics as a deductive science that reached its climax with Euclid of Alexandria in his masterpiece The Elements. Before that, during the ancient Egyptian era, mathematics was an inductive discipline of a utilitarian nature used to perform practical tasks such as flood control or land measurement using rope. It has been suggested that mathematics then amounted to no more than the two-times table and the ability to find two-thirds of any number. The whole structure of Egyptian mathematics was said to be based on these two simple rules, and indeed no evidence exists of a textual geometry with constructions and proofs.
Yet, looking at the Egyptians' stunning monuments, as well as a civilisation that spanned three millennia, one might expect to find a similar element of grandeur in their sciences -- especially in mathematics and astronomy. How did they configure the manpower and materials needed to build more than 90 pyramids? It is obvious that to calculate the vast amount of computations they needed, the ancient Egyptians reached a fairly advanced mathematical knowledge."
See the above article on the Al Ahram Weekly website for the full article.

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