The Mathematical Papyri

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The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus

This papyrus is sometimes called the Ahmes papyrys. Written by a scribe named Ahmes (Ahmose) in ca. 1550 BCE and bought in modern times by Charles Henry Rhind. The papyrus lists many problems covering topics in algebra, geometry and other areas in mathematics.

Some of the following examples of the problems presented come from [Egyptian Mathematics] a website by G. Donald Allen, Professor at Texas A&M, College Station. Others come from Corinna Rossi's book [1]

Definition: The unknown, x , is called the heep.

Problem 24. Find the heep if the heep and a seventh of the heep is 19.

Problem 48 This problem shows how the formula from problem 50 is arrived at.

Problem 50. A circular field of diameter 9 has the same area as a square of side 8.

Problem 56 This problem indicates an understanding of the idea of geometric similarity. This problem discusses the ratio <math>\frac{rise}{run}</math> The problem essentially asks to compute the cotangent for some angle . Such a formula would be need for building pyramids.

Problem 63. Problem 63. 700 loaves are to be divided among recipients where the amounts they are to receive are in the continued proportion <math>\frac{2}{3} : \frac{1}{2} : \frac{1}{3} : \frac{1}{4}</math>

Definition: The strength is given by the following formula <math>strength = \frac{1}{grain \ density}</math>

Problem 72. How many loaves of strength 45 are equivalent to 100 loaves of strength 10?

Problem 79. This problem cites only ``seven houses, 49 cats, 343 mice, 2401 ears of spelt, 16,807 hekats."


  1. C. Rossi Architecture and Mathematics in Ancient Egypt Cambridge University Press 2004