Rhynd and Moscow papyri


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Rhind papyrus

Rhind papyrus

Rhind papyrus is about 1 foot high and 18 feet long. It was bought n 1858 in Luxor by a Scottish antiquary, Henry Rhind, after whom it is called. Sometimes it is also called the Ahmes Papyrus, after the scribe who wrote it in about 1650 B. C. The scribe writes on the papyrus that the material (mathematics) on it is derived from a prototype from the Middle Kingdom of about 2000 to 1800 B. C. This papyrus contains 87 mathematical problems.

Moscow Papyrus

The other papyrus, known as Moscow or Golenischev Papyrus, was purchased in Egypt in 1893. It is about the same length as the Rhind Papyrus, about 18 feet, but only about 3 in wide. Unlike Ahmes Papyrus, this was written by an unknown scribe of the 12 th dynasty (ca. 1890 BC.). This papyrus contains 25 examples.

Moscow papyrus

Examples of mathematics which is described in these papyri are the first six problems of the Rhind papyrus which pose a question

"How to divide n loaves between 10 men if

(1) we have 1 loaf of bread,

(2) we have 2 loafs of bread

(3) we have 6 loafs of bread

(4) we have 7 loafs of bread

(5) we have 8 loafs of bread

(6) we have 9 loafs of bread?

It is pretty obvious that the solutions will have to be done by using fractions. In the worksheets you can find how Egyptians used fractions and why they were so important to them.




Egyptian numerals

These numerals are written in hyeroglyphic script. Ancient Egyptians also used hieratic script. In both cases, they wrote from right to left, as Arabs do today.

Other topics on Egyptian mathematics

Egyptian gods and mathematics

Egyptian numerals

Rhynd and Moscow Papiri

Unit Fractions

Eye of Horus Fractions

Dyadic multiplication

An Egyptian scribe from the Fourth Dynasty.

To learn about gods which are related to mathematics, or learning, click here.


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