Web Hunt!

Mathematics is not a linear science!  Cultures all over the world have made important discoveries.  As explorers traveled the world, they brought to their own countries the advancements in math and sciences they found in the various places they visited.

Textbooks tell us a lot about the Greeks and the Europeans and their marvelous contributions; now your job is to find out what other peoples developed through the years.  As you learn some mathematical facts from a variety of cultures, try to decide which you think are the most interesting and important.  This may be the basis for your presentation project!

Use the following links to help answer the questions below. If you choose to use additional internet sources, that is fine.

History of Mathematics in Africa

African Games

Egyptian Math: Ahmes What Were You Thinking?

Yoruba Number System

Mankala @ Elf.Org

Ancient Egyptian Math Texts

Mancala Web Home Page

The Oldest Mathematical Object

Babylonian and Egyptian Mathematics

Geometry and Islam

The Origins of Algebra

Algebra in the Arab World


Mayan Calendar

The Quipu, an Incan Data Structure

What is a Quipu?

Khipus, a Unique Legacy

Mayan Numerals

Mayan Numbers

Native American Transformational Geometry

Ancient India's Contribution to Mathematics

The First Use of Zero and Negative Numbers

Hindu-Arabic Numerals

History of Mathematics in Asia

Japanese Temple Geometry

The Abacus

If you would like additional resources, please visit this page.

DIRECTIONS: Fill in all boxes before submitting. The form will not be accepted with empty boxes.

Your teacher may have special directions about this web quest. Please consult your teacher with regards to scoring and other requirements. If you have any questions, you may email the web hunt designer by clicking on the button on the bottom of the page.

This Web Hunt Should Be Send To: 



Subject #1

What is the oldest mathematical object in the world? Where was it found? How old is it and what is it used for?

Answer #1: 

Subject #2

Who was Ahmes? What did he write? What sort of mathematical topics could be found in his work? Was the work his own or someone else's discovery?

Answer #2: 

Subject #3

The Yoruba had a very complex number system. Was it primarily vigesimal or decimal? What does that mean? What did it enable them to do well and how did that help them?

Answer #3: 

Subject #4

What is the meaning of the word "algebra?" From what language or society did it come?

Answer #4: 

Subject #5

We use computers as data storage devices and also use computers to make calculations. What were the storage devices of the Incas? How were they made and used?

Answer #5: 

Subject #6

What is the base of the Mayan number system? What other culture(s) have you found that use this base? There are three Mayan numbers on this page (Click Here!). What Arabic numerals do they represent? If you are having trouble interpreting these numbers this page has a tutorial! (You can also test your answer on the bottom of this page!)

Answer #6: 

Subject #7

In what way(s) is/are an abacus like a quipu? How do they differ? For what were abacus and quipus used? Which could you learn to use today?

Answer #7: 

Subject #8

What shape was used in the Americas by the Northern Cheyenne people for prayer and healing, and by the Mayans for calendars? This shape was also used by the Japanese in sangaku and by the Islamic people when decorating mosques. Pick one of these items and describe why you believe this shape was used.

Answer #8: 

Subject #9

What number did the Ancient Greek and Roman numeral systems lack that was invented and promoted in the Hindu-Arabic world? What did this invention do for the study of mathematics as a scientific field?

Answer #9: 

Subject #10

One of the most fun and engaging ways to learn mathematics is to play games. One such game is an African game called "Mancala." What does the word "mancala" mean? Play a game of mancala against the computer. How many moves did the game last? What was the final score? (Hint: You can play the game at a few different sites on the internet. To easily answer the questions about the score of your game, play at this site: Mancala Web) What do you think can be learned by playing this game?

Answer #10: 

For Further Study!

Now that you have completed some research, you are ready to proceed to another assignment in which you can creatively use the information you have discovered! You can click here to reach the assignment page. You will also have the opportunity to go to the assignment page after you have submitted the above form.

To go directly to a listing of Ethnomathematics Resources available on the web, click here.


Click to Send Email to Mrs. M. Gasch, BSIM, M.Ed. - Page Developer

Mathematics Department, Nerinx Hall High School, Webster Groves, Missouri

Clip art courtesy of Aunt Molly's Bead Street
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