Math in Ancient Greece and Egypt and the Story of Zero Amalia López, Pablo linares, Lorenzo pombo

Ancient Egypt

Egyptians used math to keep track of taxes, administration of goods, management of public works, and to manage the weapons for war.

The oldest record of Ancient Egypt math

In a letter, Hori, a scribe, writes to his rival Amen-em-opet, due to his mediocre work as adviser and manager. In The letter says:

“a ramp is to be built, 730 cubits long, 55 cubits wide, with 120 compartments—it is 60 cubits high, 30 cubits in the middle…" and the generals and the scribes turn to Hori and say, “You are a clever scribe, your name is famous. Is there anything you don’t know? Answer us, how many bricks are needed?” "Let each compartment be 30 cubits by 7 cubits.”

How did they expressed the numbers?

Like the Romans, Egyptians used their own decimal scheme, they used different symbols for 1, 10, 100, 1000 and so on.

They wrote usinghieroglyphics that are visual expressions used for writing

Ancient Greece

Greeks divided math into two fields, arithmetic and geometry.

They used Egyptian concepts and fully developed, Egyptians used math because they needed it, the Greeks wanted to go further and understand nature.

Greeks used the abacus to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

Explored the fields of engineering and mechanics and built their buildings applying this concepts.

Used many mathematical concepts in architecture, even square roots.

Plato stated laws of mathematics.

The story of the zero

At the beginning, Babylonians, Indians and Mayans had their own concept of zero.


During the III century, the zero wasn't a number, it was an operator and an initial or final position in the writing of these.


In our first millennium the zero was a division in the numbers to allow a fluid writing.


Indians used the zero as a digit in a decimal place as nowadays.

Stages it went through to become as what it is today

1. Marking Symbol

at first, it was a symbol, a sign that was added to a number when multiplied by 10, it had no value yet.

2. Cipher

It represented what was missing on the nine numbers scale. With this 10th unit, operations worked better.

3. New Number

The zero was given a value, when you subtract a number by itself, the result was zero.

Zero was represented by a circle

With this new number, mathematicians found advances in operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and raising numbers to powers of numbers.

Convertir al cero en el primero de los números, es por el contrario, renunciar a abstenernos del objeto. - Jean Piaget


- Egipcio y asirio cuenta sistemas. Fotografía. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016. Accedido 30 Mar 2017.



Created with images by quinet - "Ancient mechanical precision" • Pexels - "alone camel desert" • Fæ - "Spear Point LACMA AC1992.151.10" • zolakoma - "Scribe" • Trapuzarra - "hieroglyphs egypt old" • roger.salz - "ruins" • the yes man - "24 faced polyhedra -pentagonal faces" • kyz - "Queen Victoria" • Pexels - "abacus calculus classroom" • DaveBleasdale - "Engineering #2" • Kristoffer Trolle - "Lady sitting in front of Parthenon on Acropolis, Athens, Greece" • Tim Green aka atoach - "zero" • Ken and Nyetta - "2nd Century AD Temple in Laodicea" • tzaralunga - "babylonian_world map" • dassel - "chichén itzá mexico unesco" • drumminhands - "Maya Calendar" • Arian Zwegers - "Mamallapuram, Five Rathas, Dharmaraja Ratha" • Good Eye Might - "Scientific" • jarmoluk - "document agreement documents" • stevendepolo - "Mexico trip 2007 2 535" • olafpictures - "addiator mechanical calculator" • Mark Morgan Trinidad B - "0" • zigazou76 - "Machine à calculer Numeria"

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