Who Discovered Multiplication?

discovered-multiplication Credit: Monashee Frantz/OJO Images/Getty Images

It is thought that the early Egyptians were the first to discover multiplication and to use it effectively as well as teach it to one another. The Egyptians first settled in 6000 B.C. along the Nile valley where they quickly began to record lunar phase patterns as well as the seasonal patterns for both religious and agricultural reasons.

To survey the land, the Pharaoh's surveyors developed a measurements system that was based on body parts, which led to the development of a decimal numeric system. This decimal numerical system was based on the human's 10 fingers. We know all of this from looking at the mathematical text from ancient Egypt, which is the oldest mathematical text discovered thus far. It dates to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom around approximately 2000-1800 B.C.

Another document, the Rhind Papyrus, dates to 1650 B.C. and provides an instructional method for both multiplication and division. It also shows that the Egyptians had a variety of other mathematical knowledge including composite numbers, prime numbers, unit fractions, geometric means, harmonic means, arithmetic series, geometric series and solving first order linear equations. Another document, the Berlin Papyrus, dates to 1300 B.C. and shows that Egyptians could also solve quadratic equations, which they called second-order algebraic equations.