Advertisement

Egyptian Architecture and Mathematics

  • Corinna RossiEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

An analysis of the relationship between mathematics and architecture in ancient Egypt requires, first of all, an analysis of the terms involved in the discussion. Mathematics, mathematicians, architecture, and architect are modern terms that convey a range of meanings that may or may not find a precise correspondence in the ancient Egyptian culture. Textual, iconographic, and archaeological sources provide a significant amount of pieces of the puzzle representing the complex task of building a monument, and yet some important aspects still remain unclear.

Mathematical knowledge was deeply intertwined with the architectural practice, but defining its nature and boundaries is not easy. The extant mathematical texts are schoolbooks and cast a relatively limited light on the way in which numbers and geometrical figures were used in the planning and building process; in particular, it is difficult to establish who decided the shape and the dimensions of the buildings and of their architectural elements. The overall impression is that building a monument was a collective enterprise, carried out by a long line of individuals, the majority of whom remained anonymous.

Keywords

Ancient Egypt Architecture Mathematics Scribe Reckoning 

References

  1. Allon N, Navratilova H (2017) Ancient Egyptian scribes: a cultural exploration. Bloomsbury, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnold D (1991) Building in Egypt, pharaonic stone masonry. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  3. Badawy A (1948) Le dessin architectural chez les anciens Egyptiens. Imprimerie Nationale, CairoGoogle Scholar
  4. Baines J (1983) Literacy and ancient Egyptian society. Man 18(3):572–599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chace A, Manning HP (1927) The Rhind mathematical papyrus. British museum 10057 and 10058. Mathematical Association of America, OberlinGoogle Scholar
  6. Clagett M (1999) Ancient Egyptian science. A source book. Vol. Three: ancient Egyptian mathematics. American Philosophical Society, PhiladelphiazbMATHGoogle Scholar
  7. Clarke S, Engelbach R (1930) Ancient Egyptian masonry. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  8. Cuomo S (2012) Exploring ancient Greek and Roman numeracy. BSHM Bull: J Br Soc Hist Math 27(1):1–12. https://doi.org/10.1080/17498430.2012.618101MathSciNetCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  9. Dorman P (1988) The monuments of Senenmut. Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Dreyer G, Swelim N (1980) Die kleine Stufenpyramide von Abydos-Süd (Sinki). Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts Kairo 38:83–95Google Scholar
  11. Faulkner R (1981) A concise dictionary of middle Egyptian. Griffith Institute and Ashmolean Museum, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Gardiner A (1957) Egyptian grammar, 3rd edn. Griffith Institute and Ashmolean Museum, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  13. Gunn B (1926) Inscriptions from the step pyramid site. Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 26:177–196Google Scholar
  14. Hannah R (2009) Time in antiquity. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Imhausen A (2016) Mathematics in Ancient Egypt. A contextual history. Princeton University Press, Princeton/OxfordzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  16. Johnstone S (2011) A history of trust in ancient Greece. University of Chicago Press, Chicago/LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kemp BJ (2006) Ancient Egypt. Anatomy of a civilization, 2nd edn. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Lauer J P (1936–9) La pyramide à degrés, l’architecture. Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte, CairoGoogle Scholar
  19. Lehner M (1997) The Complete Pyramids. Thames & Hudson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Lesko L (2001) Literacy. In: Redford D (ed) The Oxford encyclopedia of ancient Egypt, vol 2. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 297–299Google Scholar
  21. Lichtheim M (1973) Ancient Egyptian literature, vol. I: The old and middle kingdoms. University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles/LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. Lichtheim M (1976) Ancient Egyptian literature, vol. II: The New Kingdom. University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles/LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Magli G (2013) Architecture, astronomy and sacred landscape in ancient Egypt. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Peet TE (1923) The Rhind mathematical papyrus, British museum 10057 and 10058. The University Press of Liverpool and Hodder & Stoughton, LondonzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  25. Perisho MW (1965) The etymology of mathematical terms. Pi Mu Epsilon Journal 4(2):62–66Google Scholar
  26. Robins GR (1994) Proportion and style in ancient Egyptian art. Thames & Hudson, LondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Robins GR, Shute CCD (1987) The Rhind mathematical papyrus: an ancient Egyptian text. British Museum Publications, LondonzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  28. Robson E (1999) Mesopotamian mathematics, 2100–1600 BC. Technical constants in bureaucracy and education. Clarendon Press, OxfordzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  29. Roero CS (1994) Egyptian mathematics. In: Grattan-Guinness I (ed) Companion encyclopedia of the history and philosophy of the mathematical sciences, vol 1. Routledge, London, pp 30–45Google Scholar
  30. Rossi C (2004) Architecture and mathematics in ancient Egypt. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rossi C (2010) Science and technology, Chapter 21. In: Lloyd AB (ed) The Blackwell companion to ancient Egypt, vol I. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 390–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rossi C, Imhausen A (2009) Papyrus Reisner I: architecture and mathematics in the time of Senusret I. In: Ikram S, Dodson A (eds) Beyond the horizon: studies in Egyptian art, archaeology and history in Honour of Barry J. Kemp. American University Press, Cairo, pp 440–455Google Scholar
  33. Schiaparelli E (1957) Relazione sui Lavori della Missione Archeologica Italiana in Egitto (anni 1903–1920). Volume secondo: La Tomba Intatta dell’Architetto Cha nella Necropoli di Tebe. Museo delle Antichità, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  34. Snape S (2011) Ancient Egyptian tombs. Wiley and Blackwell, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spalinger A (1990) The Rhind mathematical papyrus as a historical document. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 17:295–337Google Scholar
  36. Stedall J (2012) The history of mathematics. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Varille A (1968) Inscriptions concernant l’architecte Amenhotep fils de Hapou. Imprimerie de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, CairoGoogle Scholar
  38. Wildung D (1977) Egyptian saints. Deification in pharaonic Egypt. New York University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  39. Wilkinson RH (2003) The complete gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Politecnico di MilanoMilanItaly

Personalised recommendations