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Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics by [Reimer, David]
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Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial 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

"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

"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

"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."--GrrrlScientist

"This amusing popular introduction to an uncommon subject is a mental adventure that sheds new light on the thought processes of a lost civilization and will appeal both to those who enjoy mathematical puzzles and to Egyptophiles."--Edward K. Werner, Library Journal

"In general I really like this book and believe it is, if not necessarily a must for all Egyptophiles, then definitely one to put on the wish list as an interesting addition to your bookshelf. . . . It is fun way of working through complicated and yet practical mathematics which makes the Rhind Papyrus come alive and gives an insight into the logical brain of ancient Egyptian scribes."--Charlotte Booth,

"Reimer succeeds very well in transferring his enthusiasm tor the Egyptian system to the reader. The reactions from his students who were used tor a try-out are claimed to be positive. But even if you do not want to graduate as an Egyptian scribe, you may be charmed by the witty Egyptian system and you will be delighted by the colourful illustrations and Reimer's entertaining account of it all."--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

"The book is intended to be used as a teaching tool and includes practice examples for the student. It would be difficult to imagine a work that more effectively covers this aspect of the ancient civilization."--JPP, Ancient Egypt

"David Reimer succeeds in keeping the mathematics in 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

"This volume is ideal for anyone, and I truly mean anyone, young or old, mathematician, student or teacher, who wants to learn how the ancient Egyptians did mathematics. . . . This book has all the Egyptian mathematics a general mathematician, teacher or student could ever want to learn. In particular it would be a perfect resource for a schoolteacher, elementary through lower division college. The material is presented in a direct and accessible manner."--Amy Shell-Gellasch, CSHPM Bulletin

"Overall this is a didactic and well written book, with many important illustrations, with some incursions in the mathematics of other ancient cultures."--European Mathematical Society

"With Reimer's guidance, motivating stories, and lighthearted remarks, readers can become facile with Egyptian algorithms and the insights they reveal. . . . Valuable for all readers looking for a guided of an alternative to traditional school arithmetic and the torpor that algorithmic training causes."--Choice

"[T]his book is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in seeing exactly how ancient Egyptians dealt with mathematics. It will help put our present algorithms into perspective as simply one of many possible algorithms one could use to perform arithmetic operations."--Victor J. Katz, Mathematical Reviews Clippings

"[Reimer] . . . set himself to understand and explain the ancient methods, and the result is an approachable, thorough and lavishly-produced book."--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

"This is a wonderful book, very well written, filled with illustrations on every page, witty, addressing anyone interested in grade school arithmetic."--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

"An engaging and beautifully illustrated book that deals with the basics of ancient Egyptian mathematics, set in the wider context of other ancient mathematical systems."--Corinna Rossi, Aestimatio

From the Back Cover

"Reimer gives us a detailed introduction to the mathematics of the ancient Egyptians--from their arithmetic operations to their truncated pyramids--in a beautifully designed volume that is so much easier to read than a papyrus scroll."--William Dunham, author of The Calculus Gallery: Masterpieces from Newton to Lebesgue

"This book is by far the best presentation of Egyptian math I have read. In an age of overpopularized and sensationalized science reporting, Reimer's crisp prose and concise exposition earned my unqualified admiration. 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

Product Details

  • File Size: 26690 KB
  • Print Length: 251 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (May 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: May 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,307 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book as absolutely amazing. But it is ONLY for people who are interested in and enjoy mathematics for recreation or for students that really need to learn something about the subject.

This is actually a mathematics textbook, with lessons, examples and exercises. Beware the exercises the author describes as "an especially good exercise".

Although it is a textbook, it is not a boring book, it is filled with Egyptian history and examples of Egyptian life and how they applied this mathematics to their every day problems, and how those problems influenced their calculations, and yes, how they used it to build the pyramids.

Be prepared for a shock. Except for the fact that they use numbers, their calculation methods are TOTALLY different from anything you have ever experienced.

Hint: How do you calculate the area of a circle? What constant "pi" do you use? Their equivalent constant was not 3.14, it was 8/9. Want to see how they did it?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After the glowing reviews, I found this book, which I bought in the kindle version, disappointing and frustrating because it should have been really enjoyable. (For the hardcover review, skip to the update.)

I am sure the course it is taken from would rate at least 5 stars. The book is well-written, the examples are well-chosen and the illustrations are clear and attractive. The author obviously knows his subject and enjoys sharing it with others. He occasionally over-explains, but his college's math entry standards may require that.

I can only assume that the glowing reviews were written by readers who didn't try to work the examples and practice problems or that the hardcover edition, which 5 of 6 reviewers read, avoided the typographical problems of the Kindle edition.

The problem is mainly the notation and some very poor proof-reading.

The author uses the standard English lower case alphabet to represent fractions. I would have expected the Greek alphabet or, at least, a different type face. Instead the reader encounters the apparent word "as" (frequently) and each time has to decide whether that represents the English word or the Egyptian fraction, 1/12. (An example is the calculation example on page 56 "Use inches and feet to simplify ' s h as feet". In this case the answer shows that 1/12 was meant.) Not to mention the expectation of those who still remember their algebra that it will mean the variable "a" times the variable "s". And maybe college students are more restrained than high school students, but I shudder to think how a class of tenth-graders would react to the statement on page 61 "We can think of h as being composed of two ass.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite its apparently limiting title “Count Like an Egyptian”, this book delivers all that its subtitle “A Hands-On Introduction to Ancient Mathematics” promises. Besides presenting a comprehensive overview of the ancient Egyptian computing methods, Professor Reimer also introduces you to the Mesopotamian sexagesimal system, then compares these with the Roman numerals and Mayan counting glyphs, as well as with the modern decimal and even binary ways of expressing numbers.

Yet, its main theme is ancient Egypt and goes far beyond mere counting. It teaches you in detail the unique and ingenious ways of calculating the Nile dwellers had developed, as well as an appreciation of the intellectual achievement they represent. Of course, acquiring the skill of working with Egyptian unit fractions may no longer have much practical value when inexpensive pocket calculators take the drudgery out of such reckoning. However, if you are curious about the mysterious realm of numbers, this book will help you to appreciate the differences between ancient and modern methods of dealing with these insubstantial entities that we can neither see nor touch nor smell but that we can nevertheless manipulate in many useful and precise ways and that also happen to govern many aspects of our lives.

Reimer explains that our term “unit fractions” for the Egyptian way of handling partial numbers wrongly leads us to compare their fractions with ours although they have much more in common with our decimal system. The latter is, after all, also a way of writing a sum of successively smaller fractions, from tenths to hundredths to thousandths and so on in open-ended strings of ever smaller parts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just love this book "Count Like an Egyptian". You will never forget it, an unusual thing to say about a math book, and my highest praise. It is also a beautiful book to go through.

It is one of the most interesting and enjoyable volumes I have read in a while but it is also well written ... not to mention ... clear as a bell. discovering a "new" method which has been around for thousands of years was just astonishing. Fascinating subject and fascinating treatment. One thing is that the book has a friendly, approachable tone which draws you easily to the material. This is about the opposite of a 19th century German mathematics text, but it lacks no rigor. The author did a brilliant job.
And it is FUN!
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