Ancient Egyptian Numbers for Kids

Ancient Egyptian Numbers

By about 3000 BC, the ancient Egyptians had ways to write down numbers. They made one vertical line for one, two vertical lines for two, and so on up to nine. This is the same as earlier African number systems using tally sticks. For ten, the Egyptians made a U-shaped mark that represented the yoke of an ox, and for twenty you made two of the U-shaped marks. For 100, the Egyptians drew a coil of rope, and for 1000 they drew a lotus flower. They used a finger to show 10,000 and a tadpole to show 100,000, because when the Nile river flooded and the waters went down there would be millions of tadpoles everywhere.

So if you wanted to write, say, 103367, it would look like this:

Egyptian numbers

To find out more about Egyptian science, check out these books from Amazon.com or from your library:

Science in Ancient Egypt, by Geraldine Woods (1998). For kids.

Technology in the Time of Ancient Egypt, by Judith Crosher (1998). Also for kids. Includes some activities for kids to try at home or at school.

African science
African Mathematics
West Asian numbers
West Asian science
A project to make an Egyptian Shaduf
Egyptian food
Egyptian environment
Main Egypt page
Main science page



by Professor K.E. Carr, Portland State University
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