What do drawings of ropes, fingers, and flowers have to do with math? Keep on reading to learn how the ancient Egyptians used these and many other hieroglyphs to count numbers!
While this system is certainly more efficient than notch-carving, it’s definitely not without its flaws (which, again, is why we’re not all using it today). After all, you still have to do quite a bit of work to write down a number like 3,358—try it and see! Even worse, imagine having to do addition and subtraction of large numbers using this ancient Egyptian system. Just to get a taste for how “fun” this can be, I encourage you to try your hand at solving an arithmetic problem Egyptian style—perhaps 1,927 + 2,743. If you do it, you’ll definitely gain an appreciation for the beauty of the decimal system that we use every day. Aren’t you glad you live in the modern world with our modern numeral system? I know I am!
So what comes next in our brief (and certainly incomplete) tour through the history of numbers? Have any other clever people come up with clever methods of counting? There’s one other system that I bet you’re already at least somewhat familiar with: the Roman numeral system. How does that work? Well, unfortunately we’re all out of time for today. Which means that our journey into the world of ancient Rome, ancient Romans, and their numerals will have to wait until next time.
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Until next time, this is Jason Marshall with The Math Dude’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Make Math Easier. Thanks for reading, math fans!
Egyptian Cat image from Shutterstock