The History of Mathematics

Egyptian Numbers and Mathematics

Did the Egyptians use fractions?

Yes, the Egyptian numbering system dealt with fractions, albeit with symbols that do not resemble modern notation. Fractions were written by placing the hieroglyph for “mouth” over the hieroglyph for the numerical expression. For example, 1/5 and 1/10 would be seen as the first two illustrations represented in the box on page 12. Other fractions, such as the two symbols for ½ (see illustration on page 12), also have special signs.


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