‘Egypt has no place in a work on the history of mathematical astronomy.’ So declared Otto Neugebauer in his magisterial survey of the subject (1975, II: 559). And it is true that we have no surviving records of mathematical models and the precise predictive tables such as those found in the contemporaneous Babylonian civilization. But the fact that the ancient Egyptians did not apply mathematics to their astronomy should not be taken to indicate a lack of interest in or study of the movements of the heavenly bodies. Throughout the ancient world, the Egyptians held a high reputation for their knowledge of the heavens. Thales of Miletus (d. 546 BCE), credited with the first successful prediction of a solar eclipse, is said to have studied astronomy and geometry in Egypt. Democritus (fl. 425 BCE) later spent five years studying the same subjects there. And Plato (d. 347 BCE) spent thirteen years living with Egyptian priests, reading texts of mathematics and theology and becoming cognizant of their work in astronomy. What was this knowledge that drew such savants to Egypt?


Solar Eclipse British Museum Kind Permission American Philosophical Society Ancient Egyptian 


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