How Did Students Learn Math in Ancient Times?

Mathematics is a fundamental subject that has been studied for centuries. From ancient times to the present, different societies and cultures have developed their own methods of teaching and learning math. In this article, we will explore how students learned math in ancient times.

Ancient Egyptian Mathematics

The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to develop a system of mathematics. Their system was based on hieroglyphs and was used for measuring land, counting goods, and tracking time. Students learned math by studying the hieroglyphs and practicing calculations using fractions, decimals, and basic algebra.


Hieroglyphs were used as symbols to represent numbers in the ancient Egyptian system of mathematics. Each symbol represented a different number, and students had to memorize them all. The symbols ranged from simple geometric shapes like circles and squares to more complex shapes like animals and people.


Once students had memorized the hieroglyphs, they could begin practicing calculations. The ancient Egyptians used fractions extensively in their calculations, so students had to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with fractions. They also learned basic algebraic equations such as finding unknown variables.

Ancient Greek Mathematics

The ancient Greeks made significant contributions to mathematics as well. They developed many of the concepts that are still used today in geometry and trigonometry. Students learned math in ancient Greece through a combination of lectures, discussions, and problem-solving.


Greek mathematicians would give lectures on various mathematical concepts such as geometry or trigonometry. Students would listen carefully and take notes on what was being taught.


After the lecture was over, students would engage in discussions with their peers about what they had just learned. They would ask questions and try to clarify any concepts that they did not fully understand.


Finally, students would work on problem-solving exercises to apply the concepts they had learned in the lecture and discussion. These exercises were often challenging and required students to think critically about the problem at hand.

Ancient Chinese Mathematics

The ancient Chinese were also very skilled in mathematics. They developed a decimal system of counting and used it for various purposes such as calculating astronomical movements. Students learned math in ancient China through a combination of memorization and practical application.


In ancient China, students had to memorize many mathematical formulas and concepts. This was done through repetition and rote learning.

Practical Application

Once students had memorized the necessary formulas and concepts, they could begin applying them to practical problems. For example, they might calculate the area of a field or determine the height of a building using trigonometry.


In conclusion, students learned math in ancient times through a variety of methods depending on their culture and society. Whether it was studying hieroglyphs in Egypt or attending lectures in Greece, one thing is clear: mathematics has always been an important subject that requires dedication, hard work, and critical thinking skills.