Where Did Mathematics Originate From? | The Knowledge Dynasty

Where Did Mathematics Originate From?

In this article we shall explore to origins of mathematics and how they came to be. Mathematics is a very big subject no doubt. We use math in our everyday life, most of the time without even noticing it and we do not really think about it. An example would be being on time to catch a bus – we have to calculate our timings in our minds and the length of time it will take to get to work. However, where did the idea of maths come from? I will mention some of the first documents in which maths was found and explain a little about each document with a brief explanation on how the study of mathematics came about.

The Pythagoras’s used the term mathematics and took it from the Ancient Greek term ‘Mathema’, which means ‘subject of instruction’ in the 6th Century BC. Greek mathematics refined and created mathematical methods and expanded the idea of maths and the subjects within it. It is difficult to say when it was first invented or created, because we will never know who began to use the idea of counting. We can assume that maths and the idea of counting has been used by the most ancient civilisations to build cities.

According to history the most ancient mathematical text where found in 1900 BC. This was the Babylonian mathematics known as the Plimpton 322; others are the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus dated between 2000-1800 BC, and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus dated 1890 BC. These papers are all to do with Pythagorean Theorem – but basic geometry and arithmetic was also used in those days.

Plimpton 322

This clay tablet was believed to be dated around about 1800 BC and could have originated from Iraq in Senkerah, the ancient city of Larsa. It has 15 rows of numbers and four columns and portrays Babylonian Mathematics. It outlined the idea that is known as Pythagorean triples which was known by the Greeks. The writer or maker of the clay tablet was a scribe, rather than a mathematician and the tablet may have been used to help with school. 

Rhind Mathematical Papyrus

This paper is dated around 1650 BC and is named after the Scottish antiquarian who bought the papyrus in Egypt in 1858. It is now located int he British Museum and is believed to be the best example of mathematics during the Egyptian times in history. Some of it is also in the Brooklyn Museum, New York, and surprisingly some of it is still missing! The first part of this papyrus has reference tables and 20 algebraic and 20 arithmetic problems. They start with simple fractions, and then linear equations. The second part contains geometry problems and the third part contains multiplication and fraction problems.

Moscow Mathematical Papyrus

This papyrus is located at the State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. It was owned by Vladimir Golenishchev who was an Egyptologist. Research shows that it was written in the 13th Dynasty and was about 18 feet long. It contains 25 mathematical problems with solutions and is based on geometry. The math problems are much less detailed then those of the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus.

In Summary, there have been many historic mathematical documents which help us to understand the history of mathematics and how it was used. The Plimton 322, Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus are the most well known, but there are many more. We will never really know where maths started from and who invented the idea of counting. I hope you found this article useful.

If you have questions about mathematics or need help with your maths homework or coursework, you can get help with solving your math problems online by asking your questions for other members of the community to help. You can also answer math questions for others if you are a great mathematician.

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