Hieroglyphs came first. They were carved in the stone walls of temples and tombs, written on monuments, and used to decorate furniture. But they were a nuisance for scribes, who simplified the pictures and slurred some lines together when they wrote in ink on paper-like papyrus. This hieratic writing — like some people’s cursive today — can be hard to read, so we are only using hieroglyphic numbers on this blog.
Download this page from my old newsletter, and try your hand at translating some Egyptian hieroglyphs:
- Hieroglyphic addition and subtraction (pdf 47KB)
Then try writing some hieroglyphic calculations of your own.
Edited to add: The answers to these puzzles (and more) are now posted here.
To Be Continued…
Read all the posts from the September/October 1998 issue of my Mathematical Adventures of Alexandria Jones newsletter.