Egyptian Numbers  Introduction  Addition  Multiplication  Fractions
Horus had his eye gouged out and torn to pieces by his enemy, Seth, but Thoth healed it (see Horus's webpage for the full story). The Ancient Egyptians used the pieces of this eye to describe fractions. The diagram shows which part of the eye showed which fraction. You could have other fractions by combining them, so three quarters would have the parts of the eye showing a half and a quarter. You can see that they only used some fractions. They couldn't describe a third accurately, for example. A whole eye represented one. If you add all the pieces up, you find they come to 63/64, not 64/64. The Egyptians said that the missing 1/64 was made up by Thoth's magic! Wouldn't you like a bit of Thoth's magic when your sums don't come out right?

© Jo Edkins 2006  Return to Numbers index