3000-YEAR-OLD HOMEWORK

The Rhind Papyrus is named after the Scottish egyptologist. A. Henry Rhind, who purchased the papyrus in Egypt in 1858. It is scroll about 6m long and 30 cm wide. It was written around 1650 BCE by Ahmes, a scribe who states that he was copying an earlier text that was a couple of hundred years older still. Therefore the material on the papyrus possibly dates from as long as 1850 BCE.

Some eight-seven problems are contained on the papyrus, ranging from those dealing with basic arithmetic – though with Egyptian numerals, division and multiplication were not that easy – to geometry and equation solving. Though the papyrus deals with problems that would involve equations, they are not like those we know – the beginnings of algebra as we understand it would not appear for centuries.

The Moscow Papyrus, or the Golenishchev Papyrus, is roughly 4.5 m and 7 cm wide. It consists of twenty-five problems that are mostly geometric in nature.

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