The symbol for the ancient Egyptian zero was the same as the hieroglyph for beauty, complete, and an abstraction of the Egyptian of a human windpipe, heart, and lungs. The consonant sounds were nfr; but the vowel sounds are unknown.

In building construction, horizontal leveling lines were used to guide the construction of pyramids and other large structures. These massive stone structures required deep foundations and careful leveling of the courses of stones. One of these leveling lines was used as reference for other levels, and was labeled "nfr," or "zero." Other horizontal leveling lines were spaced 1 cubit apart and labeled as "1 cubit above nfr," "2 cubits above nfr," or 1 cubit, 2 cubits, etc. below nfr. (see ref) Thus, zero, in this case, was used as a reference for a system of directed or signed numbers. A number of these examples are still visible - on the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1931.

The same nfr symbol was also used to expressed zero remainders in a monthly account sheet from the Middle Kingdom dynasty 13 (
~1770 BCE). The bookkeeping record looks like a double entry account sheet with separate columns for each type of goods. At the end of the month, the account was balanced. For each item, income was added, then disbursements were totaled. Finally, the disbursement total for each column was subtracted from total income for the column. Several columns had zero remainders, shown by the nfr symbol.

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