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date: 19 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter studies Egyptian mathematics, an essential tool to administer resources, from the invention of the script and number system, ca 3000 bce. Egyptian writing was a tool restricted to the elites. Their number system was a decimal system without positional (place-value) notation. Their concept of unit fractions, as the inverses of integers, was fundamentally different from ours; other fractional values were expressed as a sum of unit fractions. The few surviving mathematical texts contain a collection of problems or tables to aid in calculations, or actual worked calculations, or a mixture of these. Some scribes had high status, based explicitly on the numerate activity of calculating taxes owed and work produced. Later Egyptian mathematics displays Mesopotamian influences.

Keywords: accounting, decimal system, fractions, mathematics, Moscow Mathematical Papyrus, Rhind Papyrus, tables

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