Babylonian Mathematics

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Information about Babylonian Mathematics

Published on September 30, 2008

Author: aSGuest312



Babylonian mathematics : Babylonian mathematics Eleanor Robson University of Cambridge Outline : Outline Introducing ourselves Going to school in ancient Babylonia Learning about Babylonian numbers Learning about Babylonian shapes Question time Who were the Babylonians? : Who were the Babylonians? Where did they live? When did they live? What were their lives like? Slide 4: We live here The Babylonians lived here, 5000-2000 years ago Babylonia, 1900–1650 BC : Cities and writing for 1500 years already Brick-built cities on rivers and canals Wealth through farming: barley and sheep Central temples, to worship many gods King Hammurabi (1792–1750 BC) Most children didn’t go to school Babylonia, 1900–1650 BC Babylonian men and women : Babylonian men and women Cuneiform writing : Cuneiform writing Wedges on clay Whole words Syllables Word types 600 different signs Sumerian language No known relatives Akkadian language Related to Hebrew, Arabic, and other modern Middle Eastern languages Cuneiform objects : Cuneiform objects Professional scribes : Professional scribes Employed by: Temples Palaces Courts of law Wealthy families Status: Slaves Senior officials Nobility In order to write: Receipts and lists Monthly and annual accounts Loans, leases, rentals, and sales Marriage contracts, dowries, and wills Royal inscriptions Records of legal disputes Letters I’m an archaeologist of maths : I’m an archaeologist of maths Archaeology is the study of rubbish To discover how people lived and died To discover how people made and used objects to work with and think with Doing maths leaves a trail of rubbish behind I study the mathematical rubbish of the ancient Babylonians Imagine an earthquake destroys your school in the middle of the night … : Imagine an earthquake destroys your school in the middle of the night … An archaeologist comes to your school 500 years from now … What mathematical things might she find in your school? What would they tell her about the maths you do? Some mathematical things in modern schools : Some mathematical things in modern schools Text books and exercise books Scrap paper and doodles Mathematical instruments from rulers to calculators Mathematical displays from models to posters Computer files and hardware But isn’t maths the same everywhere? : But isn’t maths the same everywhere? Two different ways of thinking about maths: Maths is discovered, like fossils Its history is just about who discovered what, and when Maths is created by people, like language Its history is about who thought and used what, and why The archaeology of Babylonian maths : The archaeology of Babylonian maths Looking at things in context tells us far more than studying single objects What sort of people wrote those tablets and why? Tablets don’t rot like paper or papyrus do They got lost, thrown away, or re-used Archaeologists dig them up just like pots, bones or buildings Slide 15: The ancient city of Nippur Maths at school: House F : Maths at school: House F A small house in Nippur, 10m x 5m Excavated in 1951 From the 1740s BC 1400 fragments of tablets with school exercises Tablets now in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baghdad Tablet recycling bin Kitchen with oven Room for a few students The House F curriculum : The House F curriculum Wedges and signs People’s names Words for things (wood, reed, stone, metal, …) How cuneiform works Weights, measures, and multiplications Sumerian sentences Sumerian proverbs Sumerian literature Babylonian numbers : Babylonian numbers Different: cuneiform signs pressed into clay Vertical wedges 1–9 Arrow wedges 10–50 Different/same: in base 60 What do we still count in base 60? Same: order matters Place value systems • Different: no zero – and no boundary between whole numbers & fractions 1 52 30 : 1 52 30 Playing with Babylonian numbers : Playing with Babylonian numbers Try to write: 32 23 18 81 107 4 1/2 Think of a number for your friend to write. Did they do it right? Multiplication tables : Multiplication tables 1 30 2 1 3 1 30 4 2 5 2 30 6 3 7 3 30 8 4 9 4 30 10 5 11 5 30 [12] 6 13 6 30 … … continued : … continued [14 7] [15 7 30] 16 [8] 17 [8 30] 18 9 20-1 9 30 20 10 30 15 40 20 50 25 Practicing calculations : Practicing calculations 5 155 1527 33 45 5.25x 5.25 27.5625 or 325x 325= 105,625 Was Babylonian maths so different from ours? : Was Babylonian maths so different from ours? Draw or imagine a triangle Two Babylonian triangles : Two Babylonian triangles Cultural preferences : Cultural preferences Horizontal base Vertical axis of symmetry Equilateral Left-hand vertical edge Hanging right-angled triangle or horizontal axis of symmetry Elongated A Babylonian maths book : A Babylonian maths book front back What are these shapes? : What are these shapes? The side of the square is 60 rods. Inside it are: 4 triangles, 16 barges, 5 cow's noses. What are their areas? "Triangle" is actually santakkum "cuneiform wedge" — and doesn't have to have straight edges Barge and cow’s nose : Barge and cow’s nose A father praises his son’s teacher: : A father praises his son’s teacher: “My little fellow has opened wide his hand, and you made wisdom enter there. You showed him all the fine points of the scribal art; you even made him see the solutions of mathematical and arithmetical problems.”

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