MoMath + Wolfram

Funding for this project generously provided by Overdeck Family Foundation


around 1850 BCE

Moscow Mathematical Papyrus

Ancient Egyptian mathematical papyrus

The Moscow papyrus is one of the most famous ancient Egyptian mathematical texts. It was most likely authored in the 13th dynasty and originally dated to the 12th dynasty of ancient Egypt, dating it to around 1850 BCE.

Moscow Mathematical Papyrus

The Moscow papyrus was purchased by Egyptologist Vladimir Golenishchev in Thebes in 1892 or 1893. The papyrus contains 25 problems in no particular order, and its contents provide less detail than present in the Rhind papyrus. The papyrus is best known for its geometry problems, including the surface area and volume of a frustum and the surface area of a hemisphere or half-cylinder, while its remaining problems are more prosaic.

Artifact dimensions

5.5 m × 5.7 cm (varies between 3.8 and 7.6 cm wide)

Original artifact location

Thebes (historical name), al-Wadi al-Jadid, Egypt (current name)

Current artifact location

Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

Catalog number

E4676

Timeline

Geometry timeline Babylonian Nested Triangle Tablet Babylonian Geometrical Problem Tablet Babylonian Sippar Recombination Text Moscow Mathematical Papyrus Euclid's Elements Euclid Diagram Papyrus Moche Net Balance Scale Al-Tusi's Commentary on the Elements

Interactive Content

Computational Explanation

Other Resources

Additional Reading

  • Clagett, M. Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book. Volume 3: Ancient Egyptian Mathematics. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 232. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1999.
  • Gillings, R. J. "The Volume of a Truncated Pyramid in Ancient Egyptian Papyri." Mathematics Teacher, Vol. 57, pp. 552–555, 1964.
  • Gillings, R. J. Mathematics in the Time of the Pharoahs. New York: Dover. pp. 246–247, 1972.
  • Imhausen, A. Ägyptische Algorithmen. Eine Untersuchung zu den mittelägyptischen mathematischen Aufgabentexten. Wiesbaden, Germany: 2003.
  • Imhausen, A. "Egyptian Mathematics." Ch. 1 in The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook (Ed. V. J. Katz). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 7–56, 2007.
  • Imhausen, A. "Moscow Mathematical Papyrus. " § 9.1.6 in Mathematics in Ancient Egypt. A Contextual History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, p. 69, 2016.
  • Rossi, C. Architecture and Mathematics in Ancient Egypt. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, p. 218, 2007.
  • Struve, V. V. and Turaev, B. Mathematischer Papyrus des Staatlichen Museums der Schönen Künste in Moskau. Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte der Mathematik; Abteilung A: Quellen 1. Berlin: J. Springer, 1930.

Image Credits

Carlos Dorce: The Mathematical Tourist