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# Count Like an Egyptian

A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics

**David Reimer **

- Hardcover2014Hardcover29.9524.95ISBN9780691160122256 pp.8 1/2 x 9 1/2301 color illus.Live

- E-bookISBN9781400851416

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.

## Reviews

*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***--Alexander Bogomolny,**

*Cut the Knot***--Nancy Szokan,**

*Washington Post***--Devorah Bennu,**

*GrrlScientist*,*The Guardian**Count Like an Egyptian*is a beautifully illustrated and well-written book. . . . Reimer's overriding goal is to demonstrate that Egyptian fraction arithmetic is fascinating, versatile, and well suited for whatever calls fractions into existence. . . . By working through the material Reimer patiently and gently presents, the reader will have a more thorough understanding and appreciation of how Egyptian scribes made the calculations needed to administer an empire bent on building pyramids and granaries, surveying flooded riverside property, digging irrigation basins, and rationing or exchanging bread and beer supplies amongst its gangs of workers. . . . This book should find a home in libraries used by middle school and high school mathematics teachers. It also provides a good resource for mathematics education professors and their students on the college level as they explore historical beginnings of mathematical ideas, make cultural comparisons, and develop interdisciplinary connections."

**--Calvin Jongsma,**

*MAA Reviews***--**

*GrrrlScientist***--Edward K. Werner,**

*Library Journal***--Charlotte Booth,**

*charlottesegypt.com***--A. Bultheel,**

*European Mathematical Society**Count Like an Egyptian*takes the reader step-by-step through the ancient Egyptian methods, which are surprisingly different from our own, and yet, in the capable hands of author David Reimer, surprisingly understandable. This lovely book has fun illustrations to demonstrate the various operations, basic geometry, and other tasks faced by the scribes. . . . This book is a pleasure to read and makes Egyptian math a pleasure to learn."

**--Gretchen Wagner,**

*San Francisco Book Review***--JPP,**

*Ancient Egypt**Count Like an Egyptian*clever and light, raising this book into a rare category: a coffee table book that is serious and fun."

**--Robert Schaefer,**

*New York Journal of Books***--Amy Shell-Gellasch,**

*CSHPM Bulletin***--**

*European Mathematical Society***--**

*Choice***--Victor J. Katz,**

*Mathematical Reviews Clippings***--Owen Toller,**

*Mathematical Gazette**Count like an Egyptian*is a beautifully glossy and colourful book; the presentation of hieroglyphs is particularly well done, and fully interated into the surrounding text. . . . This book has given me a new perspective on day-to-day arithmetic."

**--Christopher Hollings,**

*Mathematics Today***--Victor V. Pambuccian,**

*Zentralblatt MATH**Count Like an Egyptian*is important for anyone interested in alternative algorithms. . . . If you want to roll up your sleeves and learn some new mathematics, this is the book for you."

**--Michael Manganello,**

*Mathematics Teacher***--Corinna Rossi,**

*Aestimatio***--Gordon Clarke,**

*Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society*## Endorsements

**--William Dunham, author of**

*The Calculus Gallery: Masterpieces from Newton to Lebesgue**Count Like an Egyptian*is destined to become a classic."

**--Eli Maor, author of e**

*: The Story of a Number**Count Like an Egyptian*is well written and entertaining. This book fills a void in popular science writing on Egyptian mathematics."

**--Annette Imhausen, section author of**

*The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook*## Table of Contents

Introduction ix

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

Index 235

## Other Books Written by this Author(s)

- David Reimer

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