Miscellany

Probably the oldest copy book for home lessons in arithmetic was recently unearthed in Egypt. The papyrus, which was found in excellent condition, dates from the period about 1700 B. C.,—that is, about one hundred years before the time of Moses, or almost thirty-six hundred years ago. It proves that the Egyptians had a thorough knowledge of elementary mathematics almost to the extent of our own. The papyrus has a long heading: "Direction how to attain the knowledge of all dark things," etc. Numerous examples show that their principal operations with entire units and fractions were made by means of addition and multiplication. Subtractions and divisions were not known in their present form, but correct results were obtained nevertheless.

Equations are also found in the papyrus. Among the examples given is this one: Ten measures of barley are to be divided among ten persons in such a manner that each subsequent person receives one-eighth of a measure less than the one before him. Another example given is: There are seven men, each one has seven cats, each cat has eaten seven mice, each mouse has eaten seven grains of barley Each grain of barley would, if cultivated, have yielded seven measures of barley. How much barley has been lost in that way? The papyrus also contains calculations of area, the calculation of the area of a circle, and its transformation into a square, and finally, calculations of the cubic measurements of pyramids.—Philadelphic Record.

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October 26, 1899
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