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about 1680 BC
about 1620 BC

Ahmes was the Egyptian scribe who wrote the Rhind Papyrus - one of the oldest known mathematical documents.


Rhind papyrus
Ahmes is the scribe who wrote the Rhind Papyrus (named after the Scottish Egyptologist Alexander Henry Rhind who went to Thebes for health reasons, became interested in excavating and purchased the papyrus in Egypt in 1858).

Ahmes claims not to be the author of the work, being, he claims, only a scribe. He says that the material comes from an earlier work of about 2000 BC.

The papyrus is our chief source of information on Egyptian mathematics. The Recto contains division of 2 by the odd numbers 3 to 101 in unit fractions and the numbers 1 to 9 by 10. The Verso has 87 problems on the four operations, solution of equations, progressions, volumes of granaries, the two-thirds rule etc.

The Rhind Papyrus, which came to the British Museum in 1863, is sometimes called the 'Ahmes papyrus' in honour of Ahmes. Nothing is known of Ahmes other than his own comments in the papyrus.

The Rhind papyrus

References (show)

  1. A B Chace, L S Bull, H P Manning and R C Archibald, The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (Oberlin, Ohio, 1927-29).
  2. L N H Van Bunt, Ahmes tot Euclides. Hoofdstukken uit de geschiedenis van de wiskunde (Dutch) (Groningen-Djakarta, 1954).
  3. R J Gillings, The recto of the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus. How did the ancient Egyptian scribe prepare it?, Archive for the History of Exact Sciences 12 (1974), 291-298.
  4. J J Sylvester, On the theory of vulgar fractions, Amer. J. Math. 3 (1880), 332-385, 388-389.

Additional Resources (show)

Cross-references (show)

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update January 1997