Egyptian numeration system

The Egyptian numeration system evolved around 3400 BCE. It uses special symbols to represent numbers that are power of 10. You can see the symbols below. Study them carefully before looking at the examples to follow!
Egyptian symbols

Notice that for number greater than 10, this numeration system will require fewer symbols than the tally numeration system.

Study carefully the following examples. 245 can be represented as:

245 in Egyptian numeration system

2008 can be represented as:

2008 in Egyptian numeration system

2,320,111 can be represented as:

2320111 in Egyptian numeration system

Is this last example hard to understand? Here is the explanation:

The two astonished men give 2 million.

The three fishes give three hundred thousand or 300,000

The two pointing fingers give twenty thousand or 20,000

Together, the three fishes and the two pointing fingers will give three hundred twenty thousand or 320,000.

The scroll, the heelbone, and the staff will give 111.

How to add numbers using the Egyptian numeration system.

By now, you should have noticed that this system is additive. However, addition can quickly become a pain in the neck if you are doing addition.

You may need many symbols to express an addition problem.

Here is an example of addition with Egyptian numerals: 290 + 820 = 1,110

Addition with Egyptian numerals

Here is what we did to perform the addition above.

  • We replace ten scrolls with one lotus flower.
  • We replace ten heelbone with one scroll.
  • We do nothing with the leftover heelbone since all we have is just one.

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