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Mathematical Treasure: Tomb of Menna

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Wall painting of mathematical activities in Tomb of Menna.

Egyptian wall painting from the tomb of Menna built in the period 1420–1411 BCE in the Valley of the Kings.

Menna was a chief scribe of the 18th dynasty and was in charge of measuring fields, determining harvests, and computing the appropriate taxes. His tomb tableau depicts the mathematical activities involved in this process of assessing agricultural activities: the measuring of fields by “rope-stretchers,” determining the sizes of harvests, and computing taxes (Swetz 2012, p. 46).

The image above was photographed by Jon Bodsworth between 2001 and 2011 for his (now offline) Egypt Archive website. His photographs are from his own originals, are copyright free, and may be reproduced in any medium. See the permission statement here.

Index to Mathematical Treasures


Frank Swetz, Mathematical Expeditions: Exploring Word Problems Across the Ages. Johns Hopkins Press, 2012.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Tomb of Menna," Convergence (April 2016)