Talk:Egyptian numerals

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I'm confused about the "correct" hieroglyph for 100'000. From [1], I thought it was the tadpole


but another source [2] indicates that it is


My third source [3] also shows a tadpole. So, which one is it? Or could they both be used? Lupo 16:22, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Not all reconstructions agree. For example, Loprieno has IPA: [ˈwuʕʕuw] for "one" and IPA: [siˈnuwwaj] for "two". How should this variation in numeral reconstruction be represented? I'm sure there are many other different reconstructions, especially the further back you go in the history of the language.

Z7 vs V1[edit]

Also, what is the correct sign for 100? Is it





The MediaWiki User's Guide mentions V1, but this is not clear from other sources [4] [5] as the two are very similar.

Are the two actually different? -- Ravn 16:38, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The correct one is V1. Z7 is a sign taken over from hieratic that was used for writing the w-chick. See any good Middle Egyptian grammar reference. —Nefertum17 13:05, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Other issues[edit]

I can't answer the two above, although I suspect that the "tadpole" and the "frog", and the two "coils of rope" are just different ways of writing the same thing.

Could you name the other things in the template - a single stroke (1), a cattle hobble (10), a coil of rope (100), lotus flower (1000) and (whatever 1,000,000 is).

Also, I thought that there was a special symbol for 1/2:



Z1 Z1

was used for the one non-unit fraction, 2/3 not 1/2.

Far be it from me to question your knowledge on this topic, but in the interest of verifiability: can you cite a source for this statement? Lupo 20:05, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Found a web site myself: [6]. Lupo 20:17, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Oh, I would not profess to be an expert - how about [7]. -- ALoan (Talk) 20:17, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Is there a Wikipedia article that sets out how Egyptian maths was done (a quantity and its seventh are blah; take 7: 7 and a seventh of 7 are 8; as many times as 8 are blah, so is seven to the quantity: etc)? I have been meaning to add one (plus Babylonian, having been to a couple of talks recently). -- ALoan (Talk) 17:17, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

AFAIK, there is none, though they are explained here and here. -- Ravn 18:38, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
See Egyptian fraction. Lupo 20:05, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Probably the best source for Egyptian mathematics is Otto Neugebauer, The exact sciences in antiquity (Dover, 1969; orig. published 1949) ISBN 0486223322. It probably should be added to the main article. Neugebauer, however, is not very kind to the ancient Egyptian scientists. -- llywrch 00:21, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Sure, go right ahead. Maybe there are other book references that we might add? BTW, I think we should have a separate article on Arithmetic in Ancient Egypt or some such. There are ample on-line sources explaining how they did multiplication or division (using division tables), or on papyri showing that they knew quite advanced formulas. Lupo 07:48, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Hieratic writing[edit]

I am i little in a hurry, therefore I just wanted to note that there is also an alternate, hieratic system of writing numbers in Egypt. While not being hieroglyphic, it clearly classifies as Egyptian numerals. [8] -- Ravn 18:38, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I know. Note that this is the same page as the one given by the second extlink in the article. I just didn't include this info because I didn't know yet how to incorporate the images shown at the extlink. Fair use? Lupo 20:02, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Hmm, given that they are copied from a thousand year old papyrus, they could even be public domain. ;-) -- Ravn 09:40, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The glyphs themselves certainly are PD. But the whole GIF (arrangement, selection, etc.) is copyrightable and thus the images of the hieratic signs at two of the extlinks given are copyrighted. Whence my "fair use" question. Lupo 12:27, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I see, thanks for the info. Would it be possibly legit to redraw them as single icons without changing their external form? I could do that tomorrow. Unfortunately, the lines are not very distinct (compare the 8000) so that one cannot easily extract a cleaner schematic version. Ravn 22:05, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
(edit)I did not see that you added another link with clearer gifs. Ravn 22:15, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Does HieroTEX have support for hieratic numbers? If so, someone who knows his way with TEX could install it, write the numbers to a Postscript file and then convert that into a PNG using e.g. the GIMP (with Ghostscript installed). Lupo 07:51, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)


BTW, I found the hieroglyphs for "thirty" on this image, which is obviously a scan from a page of some book. Unfortunately, the Japanese site doesn't give the source. Lupo 20:54, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Moved to non-plural[edit]

I've moved the page to the non-plural version so that it matches the WP:MOS. I've also fixed the double redirects. It would be better for the other redirects to be fixed but I'll let people do that as and when. violet/riga (t) 10:02, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

A bad idea. One: if you move the page, it is your responsibility to fix redirects. Two: all the other articles are at the plural, see e.g. Roman numerals. And it makes sense, too. I don't have the time now, but I do think this shopuld be moved back ASAP. Lupo 10:10, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
For point one - I've fixed the double redirects but don't have the time to fix the others. For point two - it doesn't make sense and it's WP:MOS to have it at singular. violet/riga (t) 11:25, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
In fact, now I look into it (not knowing there to be other articles at the time) all the articles should be moved to the singular version. violet/riga (t) 12:02, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Hmm - could this be a case where the plural is much more commonly used than the singular - scissors, trousers - so the article should be there? (See debate about dark reactions on WP:RM). -- ALoan (Talk) 12:29, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
A valid point but I think that we may as well have it as the singular because it will be so often used as such. It's much easier to deal with linking these, especially when you can use this markup: [[Egyptian numeral]]s. Interestingly numeral is a redirect to numeral system (with the plural numeral systems also redirecting there) and numerals doesn't exist yet. violet/riga (t) 12:50, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
In general I don't care much whether a particular article resides at the singular or the plural, as long as redirects are in place (and note, I did create a redirect for the singular when this article was still at the plural, so the markup argument is moot). For most articles, the singular is the more natural place, but there are exceptions, and I think these "X numerals" articles are one. The point is that this article does not describe "the" Egyptian numeral—it describes the set (singular!) or the system (also singular!) of Egyptian numerals (plural!). The individual numerals are all different (in fact, in this article, there are even two completely different systems), and other than e.g. rational numbers (which correctly reside at the singular), they do not share a common mathematical definition: they're just pretty arbitrary signs. Also, the title of an article should correspond to its lead section. This article has "The system of Egyptian numerals was..." (plural), and thus the title should be plural, too. Rephrasing it like "An Egyptian numeral was..." is clumsy. For these reasons, and also for consistency with the other "X numerals" pages, this article should be at the plural. On a side note, it is also less work to move this article back to the plural than to move all the others to the singular. Lupo 19:39, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Sorry but I disagree on a few of your points there. The markup argument is not moot as linking to the singular and avoiding a redirect (linking to redirects is a bad thing to do imo) is made more difficult. Though you believe there are reasons I still don't think it should defy the conventions and all the articles should be de-pluralised. Also, it doesn't need to affect the intro. I'm willing to do the work on renaming the articles if you want, or back out of this as, frankly, I've not had anything to do with these articles and wouldn't be able to contribute anything else anyway. violet/riga (t) 20:18, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Just as a matter of interest, why do you think linking to redirects is a bad thing? Isn't that what they are for? -- ALoan (Talk) 21:16, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I've always seen them for use when you type them into the search bar rather than linking to them. Just a silly thing really - I just don't like to see that I've clicked on one link and been redirected to another name. violet/riga (t) 21:38, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

As this is a discussion which affects several similar pages, and can't be that easily resolved among us, maybe we should move this discussion to the Village Pump for a public vote? Just for the record, I'd prefer the plural too -as I cannot fully follow the no-redirects argument- but I can live with both. Ravn 21:58, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Widening the scope of the discussion may be a good idea. For the record though it's not a "no-redirects argument" - it's a "sticking to the Manual of Style" argument. violet/riga (t) 22:25, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Please note that the Manual of Style gives guidelines, not absolute laws that are set in stone. In fact, it says "In general...", and thus recognizes that there are exceptions. Also see Naming conventions. The "singular"-rule makes sense for the vast majority of articles, but there are cases where the plural is better. Since this article is about the Egyptian numerals and not an Egyptian numeral, it should reside at the plural. Lupo 08:10, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The tomato article isn't about a single tomato. Sorry but I don't see how it's different, but as said I don't have anything to do with this article whereas you have an interest. violet/riga (t) 09:40, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I beg to differ. It is about "the tomato" (the species Solanum lycopersicum). Similar to rational numbers, all tomatoes share a defining characteristic (their DNA; they're all round and red when ripe; ...). Not the case here. BTW, if you go up to the family of the Solanaceae, you might notice that that article also resides at a plural... Lupo 11:04, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It explains what a tomato is and then discusses about tomatoes. This article should mention what an Egyptian numeral is and then discuss the numerals. All Egyptian numerals share a defining characteristic (their use as an numeral specific to ancient Egypt). violet/riga (t) 11:10, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Proposal to move back to plural[edit]

Justification: This article refers to a collective system of numerals, not just the concept of a numeral; this collective system is referred to in the plural. Moreover, all other articles on specific numeral systems use the plural (e.g., Greek numerals; see full list at Numeral system). Overly strict adherence to the MOS is not called for in this particular case. —Nefertum17 13:16, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Be sure to make an entry at Wikipedia:Requested moves. I can see the reasoning, so I'm happy to support a move. Mgm|(talk) 13:42, Jan 27, 2005 (UTC)

Egyptian numeralEgyptian numerals[edit]

Justification: This article refers to a collective system of numerals, not just the concept of a numeral; this collective system is referred to in the plural. Moreover, all other articles on specific numeral systems use the plural (e.g., Greek numerals; see full list at Numeral system). Overly strict adherence to the MOS is not called for in this particular case. —Nefertum17 13:16, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

  • Support Nefertum17 14:01, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support While this place is far from being the beacon of consistency (and I love to point that out...ahem...Main Page...naming convention regarding capitalization of the second word), I wish we were a bit more consistent. Thus, I support this small step towards a greater consistency. —ExplorerCDT 15:33, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose: While it talks about the collective system it also details the numerals themselves. There are many articles that may wish to link to the singular ("the letter looked like an Eyptian numeral", etc.) and it makes such linking much easier, as is the primary reason for having articles at the non-pluralised version. All numerals articles should be moved to the singular in my opinion. violet/riga (t) 18:56, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • Comment: Violetriga, If that were a valid argument, I would not be able to instruct you to link it by typing this as Wikicode for that situation..."the letter looked like an [[Egyptian numerals|Eyptian numeral]] (sic)." And pardon me for saying that if you consider writing the link like that difficult (as opposed to "making such linking much easier"), then you are just plain lazy. —ExplorerCDT 23:11, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
      • Woah slow down! [[Egyptian numerals|Eyptian numeral]] is silly when it's possible to do [[Eyptian numeral]]s for my scenario. My argument is valid and I stand by my opposition to the move. violet/riga (t) 23:22, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
        • Valid or not (and I stand by my discerning observation that it is not), [[Eyptian numeral]]s is as equally displeasingly unaesthetic and unnerving as is your repeated misspelling of EGYPTIAN. Lastly, if it were silly, my option wouldn't be available for use and in compliance with many people's standards of aesthetics.—ExplorerCDT 23:35, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
          • Dear me. It is much better than your suggestion (which is obviously going to be acceptable in the wikicode though it still looks horrible) and I think you'll find it's called a "typo". When someone disagrees with you please discuss it with a decent attitude. violet/riga (t) 23:56, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
            • Typographical errors do not just happen twice in two separate locations at two separate times unless you simply do not know how to spell egyptian, or you cut and pasted an example I used the second time (quoting from your initial error) while ignoring or not comprehending what "(sic)" means. Well, Egyptian numerals and Egyptian numerals do the same thing aesthetically, the old programming used to leave the link blue and the s black which was unbalanced and ugly. Some older browsers still render it as if it were the old programming. But, if the article is pluralized and the link goes to the singular, you're not going to the right place, and for the sake of consistency in naming articles on numerical systems, this needs to be pluralized. Though, on a final note, do not deign to think I care what you observe my attitude to be. In other words, continue to have pity for yourself, because I won't. —ExplorerCDT 00:32, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
              • What is it with you? If you are used to typing at all you should realise that there are some words that are commonly typed wrong (either common throughout many people or individually). I also seem to type "backgrounf" too often, but catch it more often than not. I disagree with your opinion and that doesn't mean that I can't spell the word, understand "sic" or anything similar, so stop trying to come up with that as a line of defence (your main one isn't good enough, clearly). And you talk of pity? Become less involved... violet/riga (t) 08:52, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. Violet's point, that the link singular can also expand to cover the plural more elegantly than the reverse, is valid but not compelling. The problem is that if you actually check the redirect page, it shows that most people are naturally linking to 'Egyptian numerals'. Using the plural also conforms to the pattern of other related number system articles; Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, Chinese numerals etc. -- Solipsist 07:07, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
    • I would also add that it is difficult to imagine a user of Wikipedia searching for "Egyptian numeral" when they want to know about the complete system. If it were an article named, say, "Medj (Egyptian numeral)" and was an article about the number 10 (medj) in Egyptian, I could understand, but not for the entire numeral system. Moreover, I can't find any print dictionary or encyclopaedia that has a head word such as "Roman numeral", but always "Roman numerals". There may be an exception somewhere, but you'd have to dig for it. Nefertum17 12:47, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support Michael Z. 2005-01-28 17:35 Z
  • Oppose. Should be to Egyptian number system, if anything. Noisy | Talk 01:54, Jan 29, 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. After reading the whole discussion and the article, this seems the proper thing to do. See also Wikipedia:Naming conventions (plurals) --Sketchee 00:33, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. -- Naive cynic 01:12, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. ADH (t&m) 12:29, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)
  • Support --Pharos 12:47, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support, as I did on the talk page. Similarly for other "X numeral" articles. -- ALoan (Talk) 13:01, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. / up+land 22:52, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Hieroglyphs Changed[edit]

I have changed the hieroglyphs in the chart and elsewhere. Z7 has been replaced with V1. Z7 is just a hieratic writing of G43 sometimes used in hieroglyphic texts; it is not used as a numeral and should not be confused with V1. See any standard grammar of Middle Egyptian (Allen or Gardiner for example).

I have also attempted to clarify the section on the hieratic numerals, arguing that it is not a different system. It is the same system! There are just ligatures involved. For example, the word ARCHÆOLOGY is identical to the word ARCHAEOLOGY, despite the Æ ligature (please pardon the caps; they are only intended for clarity). Ditto for cursive handwriting vs. printed type. —Nefertum17 12:53, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Egyptian Numeral Change[edit]

Site on Egyptian Numerals.

Hi, why are you missing the shen ring sign for 10,000,000 ? Is data lacking on this ? Will you add the ring ? --Michael saunders 17:43, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Egyptian "six", what's up with it[edit]

Just a question. The Coptic word for "six" is soou. The Egyptian word is supposed to have been written out as sỉsw and some reconstruct *sarsaw based on that. Fine... but what I don't get is what the samhell happened to the second "s" in the Coptic form? All I see is one "s" and that's kinda fishy considering that mediofinal sibilants don't disappear like that in any of these correspondences:

  • msḏỉ > moste "to hate"
  • mšˁ > mooše "to walk"
  • nts > ntos "she"

So what's going on? Does anyone know the low down on why "s" is supposed to disappear in just this one word? Or... is the second "s" imaginary? --Glengordon01 06:35, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

Sigh, it's like I'm talking to an imaginary friend but I'm the only one talking back... spooky. Anyways, The only person qualified to answer my questions seems to be, well, me so here goes nuthin'.

Sunday, I did something mental... I actually went to a local university library! Crazy! So it turns out there is something fishy about this numeral just as I suspected, based not only on that fishy Coptic numeral soou that doesn't show the other "s" but also other mysterious connections that shall remain mysterious, hehe.

Behold, Middle Egyptian by John B. Callender on page 56 gives his precious reconstruction of the same numeral as *iVssáw. While I really don't agree with it any more than *sarsáw or *saysáw, I'm going to include his reconstructions on this site and if it gets too painful for people to look at, other people will also get up off their duff and contribute other existing reconstructions. I'm a giver. Yep, just call me Giver Glen. --Glengordon01 09:32, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Well, I found your question very interesting and appreciate you giving here your subsequent lookup and thoughts. SamuelRiv (talk) 02:14, 1 February 2013 (UTC)


My school seems to think the Lotus (1000) kinda looks like PacMan (even though PM was inspired by pizza.)--(my school's IP) (talk) 09:48, 1 July 2015 (UTC)