The mathematics of ancient Egypt was fundamentally different from our math today. Contrary to what people might think, it wasn’t a primitive forerunner of modern mathematics. In fact, it can’t be understood using our current computational methods. Count Like an Egyptian provides a fun, hands-on introduction to the intuitive and often-surprising art of ancient Egyptian math. David Reimer guides you step-by-step through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more. He even shows you how fractions and decimals may have been calculated—they technically didn’t exist in the land of the pharaohs. You’ll be counting like an Egyptian in no time, and along the way you’ll learn firsthand how mathematics is an expression of the culture that uses it, and why there’s more to math than rote memorization and bewildering abstraction.
Reimer takes you on a lively and entertaining tour of the ancient Egyptian world, providing rich historical details and amusing anecdotes as he presents a host of mathematical problems drawn from different eras of the Egyptian past. Each of these problems is like a tantalizing puzzle, often with a beautiful and elegant solution. As you solve them, you’ll be immersed in many facets of Egyptian life, from hieroglyphs and pyramid building to agriculture, religion, and even bread baking and beer brewing.
Fully illustrated in color throughout, Count Like an Egyptian also teaches you some Babylonian computation—the precursor to our modern system—and compares ancient Egyptian mathematics to today’s math, letting you decide for yourself which is better.
David Reimer is associate professor of mathematics at The College of New Jersey.
"Count Like an Egyptian would make an excellent addition to math classrooms at many different levels. Reimer includes problems in the text and solutions in the back of the book, so the reader can practice techniques and get a feel for exactly how the system works as they go through the book. The mathematics is basic enough to be helpful for children learning fractions or multiplication for the first time, but it's also different enough from the methods most of us know that adults will get a lot out of it as well."--Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American
"History lovers will gain much more than just insight into the Egyptian mind-set. The author interleaves mathematical exposition with short essays on Egyptian history, culture, geography, mythology--all, like the rest of the book, beautifully illustrated. . . . For a lively and inquiring mind the book has a good deal to offer. It is well written, lavishly illustrated, and just awfully interesting. The book is a pleasure to hold, to browse, and to read."--Alexander Bogomolny, Cut the Knot
"You get the feeling that David Reimer must be a pretty entertaining teacher. An associate professor of mathematics at the College of New Jersey, he has taken on the task of explaining ancient math systems by having you use them. And though it's not easy, he manages to lead you, step by step, through a hieroglyphic based calculation of how many 10-pesu loaves of bread you can make from seven hekat of grain."--Nancy Szokan, Washington Post
"An interesting combination of history, ancient literature and mythology, arithmetic puzzles and mathematics, and lavishly illustrated with numerous colour diagrams, this engaging book is unusual, thought-provoking and just plain fun to read."--Devorah Bennu, GrrlScientist, The Guardian
Table of Contents:
Computation Tables xi
1 Numbers 1
2 Fractions 13
3 Operations 22
4 Simplification 55
5 Techniques and Strategies 80
6 Miscellany 121
7 Base-Based Mathematics 144
8 Judgment Day 182
Practice Solutions 209