Math in Ancient Egypt: Analytical Essay

Math’s impact on Egypt was immense, they left us with impressive remains of civilization, such as their pyramids, and these remains helped us understand the mathematical culture that they had. The use of mathematics helped Ancient Egypt enormously especially through the rough times that they had. Ancient Egypt used mathematics to create a 365-day calendar, to build their pyramids, and to develop mathematical techniques that would help them to function as a society. Hieroglyphics was a big part of Egypt, it was the formal writing system that was used in Ancient Egypt to help communicate among others. The glyphs represented letter sounds, whole words, idaeas, and also numbers. The Rhind papyrus was one of the best-known examples of Ancient Egyptian mathematics, it was the only source of Egyptian math that they used back then. This helped them with the basic principles of mathematics that would later help them be successful in life.

Furthermore, Ancient Egypt was able to use mathematics by composing its 365-day calendar. Although mesopotamians devised the first calendar, Egyptians made the modern 12 month calendar. They have had a calendar as early as 4800 BC, but in 4200 BC, “with the help of mathematics and astronomy, they were able to produce a 365-day calendar” (Scott Williams). Their calendar was composed of 12 months, with 30 days in each month plus 5 feast days. According to Scott Williams, “At first they used counting glyphs, but even by 2000 BC, the hieratic glyphs were in use” (Scott W. Williams). They used mathematical glyphs to be able to understand how the calendar was going to be divided into sections and how everything was going to work in order to produce a calendar. They constructed the mathematical symbols that helped them communicate with each other, these symbols consisted of many weird and abnormal figures such as tally marks and arch figures, and even a stick figure person that looked like it was jumping. Each symbol represented a number, for example, the tally mark stands for the number 1 and the arch figure stands for the number 10. Although these symbols were very abnormal, they still managed to understand what they were doing, and it helped them to create a calendar that they could understand.

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In addition to creating a calendar they also used math to build their own pyramids with geometry. According to Britannica, “The geometric problems in the papyri seek measurements of figures, like rectangles and triangles of given base and height” (Britannica). This claim concludes how they used a mathematical brand in order to create their own pyramids. The Seked is an ancient Egyptian term describing the inclination of the triangular faces of a right pyramid. The Egyptians defined the seked as the ratio of the run to the rise, which is the reciprocal of the modern definition of the slope. They also used geometric proofs to determine the shapes and sizes before and during the process of constructing the pyramids. They were also able to calculate the area of the shapes in which it also helped them to know the volume of their construction. According to Britannica, “The scribe assumes the height to be 6, the base to be a square of side 4, and the top a square of side 2” ( This is an example that they used in order to let the audience understand how they used the seked method, and it also shows how they used geometry to measure the height of pyramids and their volume. To conclude, the Ancient Egyptians' way to understand how to construct their pyramids couldn’t be possible by the help of math, they were was able to use geometry to build their famous pyramids using the seked method. This reasoning leads to their developed mathematical techniques that would help them to function as a society.

Another way Ancient Egypt used math, is the way that they used developed mathematical techniques that would help them to function as a society. Math was a way to escape the bad issues that they had to face during really difficult floods. These difficulties led to the use of trade. The Egyptians needed trade because of the loss of many materials from a flood. Mathematics helped them know how to trade using many mathematical calculations. According to math history, “...their trade required that they could deal in fractions.” (J J O'connor). O’connor is an experienced freelance writer, specializing in science, history, and environmental issues. His article supports how this helped them know how much each one was supposed to get during trading. Also according to math history, “trade also required multiplication and division, so they devised remarkable methods to overcome the deficiencies” (J J O’connor). They needed math to trade goods and measure the land of planting crops. In brief summary, the Egyptians used math to be able to trade successfully for their society to grow and advance properly.

In conclusion, Ancient Egypt used mathematics in order to create a 365-day calendar, to build their pyramids, and develop mathematical techniques that would help them to function as a society. The Egyptians were able to compose their calendar just by simply using abnormal mathematical symbols also known as glyphs, to determine when the next Nile flood was going to happen and to have an organized and efficient society. Their pyramids had to be built by using a geometry technique called seked. This technique was used to determine the base and volume for their pyramids. It helped them to create their famous pyramids that are still known and visited today by many tourists. They were also able to use math for trading which helped them grow and improve as a society, during the difficult situations that they had to face due to the many floods that occurred. All of these legacies that ancient Egypt left shaped how modern Egypt is now today.

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