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Ancient Creation Stories told by the Numbers

by H. Peter Aleff

 

 

Footnotes :
 

[12]   Mary Lefkowitz: “Not out of Africa - How Afrocentrism became an excuse to teach myth as history”, Basic Books, Harper Collins, 1996.  See page xiv for quote.  
 

[13]  Sahrah P. Morris: “Daidalos and the Origins of Greek Art”, Princeton University Press, 1992, page 358.  

[14]  Otto Neugebauer: “The Exact Sciences in Antiquity”, 2nd. edition, Brown University Press, 1957, edition consulted Dover, New York, 1969, pages 71 and 72.  

[15]  B.L. van der Waerden: “Science Awakening I: Egyptian, Babylonian, and Greek Mathematics”, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, 1975, edition consulted by Scholar’s Bookshelf, 1988, pages 15 to 17.  
 

[16]  Mark Lehner: “The Complete Pyramids -- Solving the Ancient Mysteries”, Thames and Hudson, London, 1997; see the chapters “Pyramid as Landlord”, “Pyramid Towns”, and “Those who Serve: Priests and Watchers”, pages 228 to 235.  

[17] Ronald J. Williams: “The Sage in Egyptian Literature”, pages 19 to 30 in John G. Gammie and Leo G. Perdue, eds.: “The Sage in Israel and the Ancient Near East”, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, 1990; quote on page 29.  

 

 

 

  

 

  

Numerals and constants  

 

 tell the creations of numbers and world

 
 


Greek non-priority

Of course, it would have taken the ancient Egyptians a lot of computing to find out much about the behavior and interplay of constants and integers.  However, compared with the stupendous expenditure of labor for everything else related to royal religious projects, even many thousands of hours spent investigating the relationships of numbers would have amounted to less than a pyramid construction foreman’s budget for papyrus- clips, that is, if these had already been invented to help him organize his many records and schedules.

Unfortunately, it is a heresy against mainstream dogma to suggest that ancient Egyptians may have had scientific skills the Classical and Hellenistic Greeks didn’t.  For instance, the author of Not out of Africa asks rhetorically:

“How could anyone suppose that the ancient Greeks were not the authors of their own philosophy and scientific theory?”[12]

She does not consider the rational answer that the Greeks came late and adapted what they found from the older civilizations nearby -- as some of the Greek writers themselves said they had done.  Instead, she simply declares it untrue that Egypt was the mother of Western civilization, relying on the common academic method of proof by assertion.

We have long been told that Athena, the goddess of wisdom, sprang fully formed from the cranium of Zeus and that the world wallowed in darkness until the wonderful Greeks created the light of science.  However, although the Athenians devised that myth and its many impressive illustrations to hide the immigrant status of their city goddess, it turns out that they borrowed this goddess as well as that very image itself from Levantine sources[13]. 

Some modern writers assert categorically that “mathematics and astronomy played a uniformly insignificant role in all periods of Egyptian history” and that the ancient Egyptians “did not contribute positively to the development of mathematical knowledge” but used mathematics only for down- to- earth practical purposes and had no other interest in it[14].  Such statements have no basis in facts but reveal only the lingering colonial- era bias in those authors' academic disciplines.

For instance, the mathematician and historian of science B.L. van der Waerden argues[15] that Aristotle was wrong in saying the priestly class had developed geometry because the Egyptians allowed it leisure.  His argument is that priests became a class only after the Middle Kingdom.  Until then, their tasks were usually carried out by laymen, along with their ordinary occupations.  Ergo no leisure, ergo no non- utilitarian math.  Q.E.D. 

This scholar seems to forget that the pharaonic society was among the most stratified economies in history, with lots of toil for the workers and lots of leisure for the luxuriously living members of the upper class.  The latter also happened to run the religion whether they had priestly titles or not, and whether they did temple chores themselves or rather delegated many of them to underlings. 

Moreover, each king endowed his cult with rich estates to provide for the rotating crews of up to several hundred priests and tomb guardians[16] whose ritual duties towards the soul of the dead king may not always have exhausted them to the point of preventing them from mental pursuits. 

Some of the most renowned Egyptian sages lived in the pyramid age, such as its inaugurator Imhotep, as well as Prince Hardjedef and Vizier Ptahhotpe of the fourth and fifth or sixth dynasties.  The modern scholar Ronald J. Williams calls them the “polymaths of their generations”[17] and they themselves usually called themselves High Priests. 

These intellectual leaders and many of their followers had significant incentives in their quest for mathematical knowledge.

 

 

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