The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. The eye is personified in the goddess Wadjet
One of the most puzzling episodes in the history of human thought is the 2000-year reign of Egyptian unit fractions. We can, at least in part, reconstruct the arithmetical manipulations involved, but the underlying reason or motive for expressing fractional quantities as sums of unit fractions remains mysterious. Was it simply a cumbersome style of writing that persisted for so many centuries just out of deference to traditional forms, or did it express an actual way of thinking that has since been forgotten?
Each of the sacred unit fractions which the ancient Egyptians attributed to the six parts of the eye of the god Horus: 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, and 1/64. These fractions, all with powers of two in their denominators, were used to represent the fractions of hekat, the unit measure of capacity for grains. According to a legend, the pieces were lost in a battle, and restored by the god Thoth.
Overall the most plausible explanation for the ancient fixation on unit fractions seems to be that they had difficulty conceiving of a single quantity in terms of two variables (numerator and denominator), and were looking for simple "whole" fractional quantities. Just as the "whole" natural numbers are those of the form n/1, it was natural to imagine that the "whole" fractional numbers are of the form 1/n.
Originally posted by DJW001
Not a math problem, per se, but perhaps a mnemonic. Star and flag for posting something about Ancient Egypt that is actually true.
Originally posted by muzzleflash
You know what this reveals to me?
That we "modern humans" actually do not know very much at all.
A few dozen great inventors created everything we use today and we take it all for granted.
We are grossly ignorant of the most basic and simple realizations.
We don't even understand our own biological nature, much less our history thousands of years ago.
The only thing I know for certain, is that we don't have the slightest clue.
Originally posted by RealSpoke
reply to post by Tinman67
We do not need ancient aliens, the human brain is more than capable.
The evolution of mathematics might be seen as an ever-increasing series of abstractions, or alternatively an expansion of subject matter. The first abstraction, which is shared by many animals, was probably that of numbers: the realization that a collection of two apples and a collection of two oranges (for example) have something in common, namely quantity of their members.
In addition to recognizing how to count physical objects, prehistoric peoples also recognized how to count abstract quantities, like time – days, seasons, years. Elementary arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) naturally followed.
reply to post by heineken
i just realized there is the golden ration embedded in the eye of horus... how come the Egyptians knew about that