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An Introduction to Ancient Egypt

Part 2: Writing and Math

The Egyptians built some of their boats out of papyrus. This plant grew in great numbers in Egypt. The people also used parts of the papyrus plant as a sort of writing material. Our modern word paper was made from the word papyrus.

Egyptian people would use brushes and draw pictures, or hieroglyphs, on rolls of papyrus. Some of these hieroglyphs told stories. Others stood for something else. Some hieroglyphs, for example, represented a pharaoh or a god. Others stood for a sound or a letter. We get our modern alphabet in part from these hieroglyphs.

Egyptians kept records of how much grain they had on hand and how much they sold. These records were written, using brushes on papyrus. The record-keepers used symbols to stand for numbers. A single mark stood for the number 1. Two marks meant the number 2. Three marks meant 3, and so on, up to 10. This number was shown as a horseshoe. (Can you identify the numbers shown in Egyptian symbols? Click here to try.)

Next page > A Government of One > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday, except for Egypt Math, courtesy of Mark Millmore

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