Mathematics did not just happen, it has evolved.
For your first maths homework, you are going to
look at one part of the history of mathematics.
Choose a period of history from the next page and
then select a suitable task(s).
This will be an opportunity to impress with the standard
of your work. Don’t settle for second best.
In the side bar, you will find various web links that can help.
Click on the link to access the internet.
THE EGYPTIANS AND MATHEMATICS
The Egyptians are best known for the magnificent pyramids which are still
standing in our modern world. The construction of these gigantic buildings
needed a high level of mathematical ability which we will look at more
•The most famous Egyptian is the Pharoah Tutankamen. Find out as much
as possible about this man and the pyramid he was buried in.
•As said already, the pyramids are interesting buildings. You could make a
small pyramid of your own, and look into its many properties.
•To illustrate how the Egyptians used mathematics produce an attractive
wall display for the classroom.
•The Egyptians knew a great deal about triangles and pyramids. For the
below triangles they found the rule to find out how many were needed for
a given number of levels. Can you?
CHINESE AND MATHEMATICS
The Chinese being separated from Europe continued to be ignored
by foreigners until the late Nineteenth Century. It was then found to
have a very high level of mathematical treasures among other
•Produce a sheet of Chinese mathematics questions using the
numbers printed on an earlier sheet.
• The Chinese produced many games, notably ‘Chess’ and ‘Go’. Find
out as much as you can about these two games.
•The ‘Magic Square’ was used by the Chinese for many decorative
purposes. Make up a magic square and use it in a Chinese design of
•Produce a wall display showing the Chinese using mathematics.
•A Chinese story goes that an Emperor was so fascinated by the
game of chess when it was shown to him that he said he would give
the inventor any reward he wanted. The crafty inventor said he
would like one grain of wheat for the first square of his chessboard,
two for the next, four for the next, and so on. Work out how many
grains of wheat the inventor would receive. Is this a reasonable
GREEKS AND MATHEMATICS
The Greek civilisation was at its height approximately 600 – 300 B.C.
and during this time they produced many of the ideas governing our life
today. These include such areas as philosophy, medicine and of course
mathematics. The most famous Greeks are Pythagoras, Euclid and
•Find out as much as possible about these three Greeks. (If you become
struck try and find out about Pythagoras’ Theorem and Euclid’s
•Using the Greek numbers , write a sheet of Greek mathematics
questions. You must also, of course, provide an answer sheet.
•Produce a short play starring a Greek mathematician.
•Make a wall display showing the Greeks and the mathematics they used.
•(A Greek Paradox). Achilles and a tortoise run a race. The tortoise runs
a mile of the course before Achilles, running ten times as fast as the
tortoise, starts. When Achilles has covered his first mile the tortoise
will, therefore, be 0.1of a mile further ahead. When Achilles has
completed this distance, the tortoise will be 0.01 of a mile ahead of him…
and so on. Are we to conclude that the tortoise will always be a little
ROMANS AND MATHEMATICS
Much of the development of mathematics stopped after the Roman
Empire came to dominate Europe. They were too busy conquering
than counting. However, some mathematics continued to be used,
especially if of a practical nature. The most famous examples being
the aqueducts, bridges and roads which are still standing.
•Roman numerals are still used today, notably to show when a
television programme was made. Make a list of your favourite
programmes and find the year they were filmed.
•An Abacus was a counting frame used by the Romans. Find out
how you use this helpful device. Perhaps write out a set of
•The most famous Roman building is the Colosseum. Collect as
much information about this building as possible.
•Make up a set of mathematics question using Roman numerals.
Remember to include an answer sheet.
•Construct an attractive wall display with the theme being ‘Romans
THE RENAISSANCE AND MATHEMATICS
During the sixteenth century, Europe came out of a dark age to a world of
thought and discovery. One of these paths of enthusiasm was in the area of
mathematics. Many of our modern ideas about numbers date from this
•Italy was a leader in this age of new thought. It produced many brilliant
thinkers but probably the most famous is Leonardo De Vinci. Find out as
much as possible about this great man.
• The slide rule was first used during this time and, until the invention of
the calculator, was an important piece of equipment for most
mathematicians. Possibly you could make one yourself and find out how
•Gambling became widespread during this time. Many different games
became popular and mathematics was used by a few to ensure victory. Find
out how mathematics can help you win money.
•Produce a wall display to show how mathematics was used during the
•About this time experiments were tried with coordinates. Draw a picture
on a coordinate grid, then redraw the picture using a doubled horizontal
scale and a halved vertical scale. What has happened?
COMPUTERS AND MATHEMATICS
Electric computers have now become part of our everyday life. Few
areas of the modern world have been left unaffected. However,
mechanical computers were used in Europe since the 17th Century.
Needless to say these mechanical computers did not calculate as fast as
their modern equivalents.
•Charles Babbage is called the father of modern computers. Find as
much as possible about him.
• The electronic calculator can do many different operations. Choose a
suitable example, and find out what the various buttons do.
•All major companies now use computers to help in the work that they
do. Collect examples of these.
•Make an attractive wall display showing how computers are used in
our modern world.
•The earliest computers were of a mechanical operation. Try to build a
computer of your own which can be used for simple arithmetic.
•Alan Turing is often linked with codebreaking . Find out about what he
Greek numerals are a bit more
complicated than Roman. There are
two distinct groups of Greek
numerals, and both are given below.
Acrophobic First is the Acrophonic - this is type
of Greek numerals that were used in
ancient Greece up to Roman times
(100 BC). It is called acrophonic
because of the initial letter of the
word designation - for example g (in
Greek script as below) stood for five,
and five was 'gente'; h stood for 100,
and hundred was 'hekaton' and so
on. This system is also sometimes
called 'Attic' - it also stands for an
offspring of Ionic dialect spoken in
the city of Athens.
This was later replaced by the
Alphabetic numerals - where 27
letters and their combinations stood
for all numbers. The table is given
below too. This system is also
sometimes called Ionic. It was not
positional, meaning that the place of
the letter did not denote its value like
we have it in our number system.