Sumerian Math Problems

We try to establish connections between subjects at every opportunity.  Here are some examples of  our Mesopotamian themed math problems. See if you can figure them out!

Cavu, Ramu and Sheck , three brick masons in the ancient Sumerian City of Ur, were building a merchant’s new trading store.  They were paid by their employer in measures of barley based on their experience and their quality of work.  Cavu earned twice as much as Sheck while Ramu made one-third the amount of Cavu.  If their employer paid out a total of 88 measures of barley to the three of them over the length of this job, how much did each man receive?

Cavu, Ramu and Sheck used their pay of barley measures to support their families.  Cavu had seven mouths to feed including himself.  Sheck had four family members, including himself, while Ramu only had  himself  and his wife.  If a measure of barley could produce two loaves of bread, which man was able to provide the most bread for each member of his family?  Which provided the least?

One thought on “Sumerian Math Problems

  1. If we say Sheck’s salary = s
    and Cavu makes twice as much, then Cavu’s salary is 2s.
    If Ramu makes one-third of Cavu’s salary, that equals 2s divided by 3 or 2/3 of s or .666s


    Sheck makes s = 24
    Cavu makes twice as much = 2s = 48
    Ramu makes a third of Cavu so 48 divided by 3 = 16

    Sheck can buy 48 loaves (24 x2) for his 4 person family so each person gets 48 divided by 4 =12 loaves
    Cavu can buy 96 loaves (48 x2) for his 7 person family so each person gets 96 divides by 7 = 13.7 loaves
    Ramu can buy 32 loaves (16 x2) for his 2 person family so each person gets 32 divided by 2 = 16 loaves

    The baker winds up with all the money and we don’t even know his or her name!

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