Egyptian Numeration


Egyptian hieroglyphics of some 5500 years ago are a numerical grouping system whose symbols were used to signify numbers which, when added together, could express any desired number.



The number 1 was represented by a vertical line, or a picture of a staff; 10 by a heel-bone sign; 100 by a coiled rope; 1000 by a lotus blossom;       10 000 by a bent finger; 100 000 by a tadpole;     1 000 000 by a kneeling genie with raised arms:
Each symbol could be repeated up to nine times, signifying addition. In a system of           this kind the order of the symbols is of no consequence, but the Egyptians usually wrote the symbols in order of descending value, either from left to right or from right to left.
           = 1 143 254

A number system that uses ten as a base is called a decimal (decadic, denary) system; thus the notation used by the ancient Egyptians is a strictly additive decimal notation. The Egyptians generally used only so-called unit fractions having the number 1 as numerator, which they wrote by placing the symbol for an open mouth above the denominator:

                                              1/13        1/224      1/2160

Special symbols were used for certain fractions:

If you want to know more about ancient Egyptians click here !

Panche Hadzi-Andonov , AAI
 Copyright 2000 

All rights reserved.
Revised: August 21, 2000