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Ancient Creation Stories told by the Numbers

by H. Peter Aleff

Numerals and constants  

 

 tell the creations of numbers and world

 
 


King Narmer's wedding picture and "booty list"

 

The carved scenes on King Narmer's mace according to Quibell, "Hierakonpolis, London, 1900, Volume 1, Plate XXVI B, reproduced from Marshall Clagett: Ancient Egyptian Science, a Source Book”, Volume 1: “Knowledge and Order”, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1989, Figure 1.9, page 751.  

The numerals occupy the center of the lower register.  Four tadpoles below the ox, each meaning 100,000, record 400,000 oxen.  The sky- lifting Heh- god behind the goat was the hieroglyph for "one million"; together with the four tadpoles and the two "10,000" fingers below the goat, and the double "1,000" lotus- stalk below the god, this makes 1,422,000 goats.  To the right of these animal quantities, one tadpole and two fingers below the captive with his arms tied behind his back count 120,000 prisoners.  

These quantities makes Narmer's mace the earliest surviving document with numbers from Egypt, and the earliest surviving document with such large numbers from anywhere on the planet.  And  there is much more to this early and masterful composition of numbers, as you will see when you return to the story .

 

 

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