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Board mystery of Babylon is unveiled by scientists

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Board mystery of Babylon is unveiled by scientists

Clay plate of 3,700 years contains very advanced trigonometric tables, written more than 1,000 years before Greeks developed the calculations



Babylon board


The 3,700-year-old 'Plimpton 322' Babylonian board (Andrew Kelly / UNSW / Disclosure)
Almost a century of studies have revealed that inscriptions on a 3,700 year-old Babylonian clay plaque constitute the earliest known trigonometric board. Composed of very advanced calculations possibly used in the construction of temples, palaces and canals, the plaque was minted about 1,000 years before the Greek mathematician Pythagoras became known as the trigonometry theorem, which states that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the square of the cathets - the board brings not only the same account, but also a number of other formulas that scientists claim to be even more accurate than the current ones.


Hipparchus, a Greek astronomer who lived in the second century BC, is considered the father of trigonometry (area of mathematics that studies relationships between the lengths of the sides and the angles of triangles), but the plate 13 centimeters wide by 9 centimeters high , known as Plimpton 322, reveals that well before him the Babylonians had developed very sophisticated trigonometric tables.


"The board opens new possibilities not only for the research of modern mathematics, but also for education. It brings a simpler and precise trigonometry that has clear advantages over ours. The world of mathematics is beginning to realize the fact that this ancient but very sophisticated culture has much to teach us, "said mathematician Norman Wildberger, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia and author of the study published in this issue. Thursday in the newspaper Historia Mathematica.


The oldest trigonometric board

The plaque was discovered in the early 20th century in Senkereh, south of present-day Iraq, by American archaeologist and antique dealer Edgar Banks - a figure who inspired Indiana Jones, a famous movie character. It was sold by Banks to the American publisher George Arthur Plimpton who in the mid-1930s donated the item to Columbia University in the United States and has since intrigued the researchers.


"Our study shows that Plimpton 322 describes rectangle triangle formats using a new type of trigonometry based on proportions, not angles and circles, as we do today. It's a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undeniable genius, "said Mansfield.


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So, proposal is that much hated "modern" trigonometrics should be replaced by Babylonic trigonometrics. Guess it even explaines the quadarture of the circle. Good-bye Pithagoras and Hipparchus! By the way, once more it is proved that keeping data in clay plaques is safer than any CD, hard drive or USB . I still would like to get a CD-R which should be readable after 25 years! Technology should be developed to install a clay-plaque recorder-reader (CP-R and CP-RW) in computers.

Edited by luisam

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