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Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs Paperback – June 1, 1982


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Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs + Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (June 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048624315X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486243153
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Rhind, Moscow, and other important mathematical papyri decoded in every detail. A sweeping tour through the ancient Egyptian methods of calculation, parts of which are still used today in computer code! In his well-written account, Mr. Gillings makes it very clear that the common view on ancient Egyptian mathematics as 'rather primitive' is definitely to be revised. Provided with a few basic tools, the scribes of the epoch were able to carry out very complicated computations indeed, at times involving several different units. Their rough-and-ready estimate of pi was off by only 0.6 percent as compared to the correct value. The author presents a rich variety of calculated examples and explains the logic behind them. Earlier researchers in the field are commented.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Milo on September 8, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gillings attempted to bring together all the known hieratic mathematical texts. Even the Akhmim Wooden Tablet (AWT) was mentioned as a footnote. Though not analyzed in any section, the AWT and the hieratic math texts outline an exciting book. Taken together the Middle Kingdom math texts were read as one document, one text checking the another text for errors and omissions. In great part Gillings followed that rule.

Exceptions to the rule lie in the reporting of five texts, and aspects of other texts. The five under valued texts are the AWT, the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll, the Reisner Papyri, the Kahun Papyrus, and the RMP. All five texts were reported by Gillings with minor oversights becoming major oversights when oversights were placed in the larger context of scribal meta mathematics.

Concerning the EMLR, Gillings' oversight consisted of four of the 26 lines of texts, only reporting them as additive in scope, as were the other 22 lines. Actually a higher form of abstract arithmetic should have been discussed as potentially present.

The Reisner Papyri was discussed as containing quotients, which it does. Gillings' oversight was not mentioning the remainders that filled the scribal overseer notes from a construction site where daily worker digging rates were measured in units of 10. Hence all of the digging rates were divided by 10, and were reported by the scribe as quotient and remainder totals, a remainder arithmetic fact that escaped Gillings analysis. One scribal error was corrected by Gillings, properly listing a quotient and remainder; however, the proper modern name for the ancient arithmetic was not potentiallly commented upon by Gillings.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I admit I am not yet too far along but can already tell it holds information that is hard to find. It seems pretty well-written as books on Egyptology or esoteric mathematical topics go, but admittedly I'm no expert in either realm. Not being an archaeologist or mathemetician, I may not quite be able to appreciate or understand this book as much as others who are one or both of those things, but I can safely say I like it a lot and undoubtedly, one could do worse.
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By Amazon Customer on January 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book for a paper and got a great grade. It had a lot of known and little known information.
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