By Lauren C.
A Blast From the Past
Below is a photo of the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus of Ancient Egypt. It is considered to be one of the most important documents of the Ancient World. This Ancient Egyptian document dates back from almost 40000 years ago. It was written as a kind of math textbook, containing 84 practical problems in Egyptian life. The problems range from finding the area of a circle to finding the slope of a pyramid. The mathematical knowledge of the Ancient Egyptians that this represents is astounding. I have included this to give you a quick preview of the Ancient Mathematics. Later on, I will get more into detail on Ancient Egyptian Math.
Below is a picture of Ishango bones, tally sticks found in Africa dating over 20,000 years ago. Although tallying is not considered true mathematics, it does represent a form of knowledge of amounts. People knew the difference between 1 or 2 animals 20,000 years ago.
The idea of square numbers and quadratic equations arose in the process of measuring land. Babylonian mathematical tablets give the first ever evidence of solutions to quadratic equations. The Babylonian approach to solving these types of problems usually revolved around a kind of geometric game of slicing up and rearranging shapes, although the use of algebra and quadratic equations also appears.
Below: Babylonian clay tablets show the solving of quadratic equations and the area of an irregular shape from c. 2100 BCE.
The oldest mathematical text discovered from Ancient Egypt so far is the Moscow Papyrus. The Moscow Papyrus dates back from the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, from around 2000 to 1800 BCE. Below is a photo of the Moscow Papyrus.
Not only did the Greeks revolutionize the numeric system and function, but they also made major contributions to the world of geometry. Thales, a Greek mathematician, developed the most basic ways of geometry that now seem quite simple, but led the way to major mathematical advancements. Thales created the Thales´ Theorem, where if a triangle is drawn inside a circle with the long side as the diameter of the circle, then the opposite angle will be a right angle. Thales also created another theorem, known as the Intercept Theorem, about ratios of line segments that are created if two intercepting lines are intercepted by a pair of parallels [and, by extension, the ratios of the sides are similar triangles].
Below: This is a picture of what Thales' Intercept Theorem represents. Although this seems like a very simple equation, this was one of the basic building blocks of geometry contributed by the Ancient Greeks.
Please watch the following short video of the history of mathematics summarized. This video includes subjects I have already covered and touches base on other information, too.