Number Systems Part 2 – Egyptian Numerals

Before the widespread usage of the Arabic number system, there were other ways to represent numbers. Let’s look at Egyptian Numerals.

The Ancient Egyptian number system has symbols for powers of tens. This means that this number system is fairly similar to the modern number system since both are base ten.

 1 =one     10 =ten      100 =hundred     1,000 =ten_thousand      10,000 =thousand100,000 = hundred_thousand    1,000,000 = million

Numbers are formed by placing these symbols close together in any direction horizontally or vertically and then added together. Thus the number 3 = three, 13 = thirteen and 113 = 123.

The Egyptians had two ways of forming fractions. One way is by placing this symbol: fraction on top of a number. This means 1 over that number. For example 1/3 = 1_3 and 1/13 = 1_13. To represent fractions with numerators larger then one, two or more fractions have to be added together. For example 2/132_13(The symbol for addition is a pair of feet pointed in the same direction as the text, if it is pointed in the opposite direction it means subtraction.)

Fun fact, the Egyptians had a symbol for nothing nfr (nfr), means beautiful. This was symbol was used to represent ground floor when constructing pyramids.

Sources used