Saturday, February 18, 2023

Ancient Egyptian Geometry


Alice C. Linsley

The American mathematician Abraham Seidenberg (1916-1988) believed that there were two traditions in ancient mathematics. One was a geometric-constructive tradition and the other an algebraic-computational tradition. He claimed that both originated from a common source prior to Greek, Babylonian, Chinese, and Vedic mathematics. If he is correct, that leaves the ancient Nile.

In 1962, Seidenberg expressed the opinion that “the elements of ancient geometry found in Egypt and Babylonia stem from a ritual system of the kind found in Shulba Sūtrās.” However, the geometry used by those pyramid builders predates the Shulba Sūtrās by about 1800 years. The oldest of the Pyramids of Giza is that of King Khufu and dates to 2609 B.C. South of Khufu’s pyramid is the step pyramid of King Djoser, a ruler of the Third Dynasty (2670-2613 B.C.). Djoser inaugurated an era of monumental building in stone which inspired the Great Pyramids.

The geometry used in the construction of the Great Pyramids is evident in their alignment. As Giulio Magli (Faculty of Civil Architecture - Politecnico di Milano) noted, “Indeed, the south-east corners of these monuments align towards the site of the temple of Heliopolis, which was plainly visible in ancient times. It was later discovered that a similar situation occurs in the main pyramid field of the subsequent dynasty at Abu Sir. Here, the north-west corners of three chronologically successive pyramids again voluntarily align towards Heliopolis.” (“Topography, astronomy and dynastic history in the alignments of the pyramid fields of the Old Kingdom” by Giulio Magli)

It has been shown that the pyramids at Giza, Abusir, and Saqqara all align to the sacred shrine city of Heliopolis, that is, biblical On. The Pyramid Texts speak of On as the place on earth where Ra ruled (Utterance 307). In Genesis 41:45 we are told that Jacob's son Joseph married Asenath, a high-status bride whose father was a priest of On. 

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