Which Ancient Civilization Invented Algebra?

Algebra is a fundamental branch of mathematics that involves the manipulation of symbols and equations to solve problems. It is a subject that has been studied by scholars for centuries, with its origins dating back to ancient civilizations.

The question that arises in many minds is – Which ancient civilization invented algebra? In this article, we will explore the history of algebra and try to answer this question.

The Origins of Algebra

The word “algebra” comes from the Arabic word “al-jabr,” which means “reunion of broken parts.” This term was first used by the Muslim mathematician Al-Khwarizmi in his book “Kitab al-Jabr wa al-Muqabala” (The Book of Restoration and Reduction). This book is considered to be one of the most important works in the history of mathematics and was written in the 9th century.

However, algebra did not originate in the Islamic world. Its roots can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks.

The Babylonians

The Babylonians were one of the first civilizations to use algebraic methods to solve mathematical problems. They had a sophisticated number system based on 60, which allowed them to perform complex calculations. The Babylonians used algebraic techniques to solve equations involving unknown quantities, but they did not have a systematic method for solving them.

The Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians also used algebraic methods in their calculations. They developed a hieroglyphic system for representing numbers and used it to solve problems involving unknown quantities. However, like the Babylonians, they did not have a formal system for solving equations.

The Greeks

The Greek mathematician Diophantus is often credited with being the father of algebra. He lived in Alexandria during the 3rd century AD and wrote a series of books called “Arithmetica.”

These books contained algebraic equations and methods for solving them. However, Diophantus did not use symbols to represent variables, which is a key feature of modern algebra.


In conclusion, algebra has a long and rich history that spans many different civilizations. While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which civilization invented algebra, it is clear that many ancient cultures made significant contributions to the development of this branch of mathematics.

From the Babylonians to the Greeks to the Islamic scholars of the Middle Ages, algebra has been studied and refined over thousands of years. Today, it is an essential tool in fields like engineering, physics, and computer science.