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Lessing, Erich, photographer (born 1923)

Rhind Mathematical Papyrus. A number of documents have survived that allow us insight into the ancient Egyptians' approach to mathematics. This papyrus is the most extensive. It is not a theoretical treatise, but a list of practical problems encountered in administrative and building works. The text contains eighty-four problems concerned with numerical operations, practical problem-solving, and geometrical shapes. The majority of literate Egyptians were scribes and they were expected to undertake various tasks. These must have demanded some mathematical as well as writing skills. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus is also important as a historical document, since the copyist noted that he was writing in year 33 of the reign of Apophis, the penultimate king of the Hyksos 15th Dynasty (about 1650-1550 BCE) and was copied after an original of the 12th Dynasty (about 1985-1795 BCE). On the other side of the papyrus "year 11" is mentioned, with a reference to the taking of some Egyptian towns. This probably refers to the fighting between the Egyptians and the Hyksos before the beginning of the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE). However, it is not certain to which king "year 11" refers. Length: 319 cm, width: 34.3 cm; from Thebes, Egypt Around 1550 BCE (end of the Second Intermediate Period) EA 10057

British Museum, London, Great Britain