Babylon, a great mathematical power

Babylon, a great mathematical power


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The Babylonians have always been one of the most researched historical civilizations for many years and it is known that in Babylon extensive knowledge of mathematics, something that many other contemporary civilizations did not use.

As we all know, writing it is based mainly on symbols written on clay tablets. Today we are very lucky because a large number of these tablets are in a perfect state of conservation, which allows them to be studied in depth.

In these investigations it has been possible to know what the mathematics used by this civilization were like, which can boast of important abilities for this science.

Mathematics in Babylon

Of all the Babylonian tablets found thus far, 300 are dedicated to mathematics and 200 are tables of different kinds, used to multiply and even perform operations with powers.

Another finding about the Babylonians and their mathematics is that they knew the Pythagorean Theorem 1,000 years before he devised it (with the Plimpton 322 Tablet). and various second, third and fourth degree algebra problems or even being able to solve systems of equations.

They were authentic pioneers in the use of a system to measure time and they were the culprits of introducing the sexagesimal system, dividing the day into 24 hours, the hours into 60 minutes and each minute into 60 seconds, something that has survived to this day.

All this may seem like a great advantage, but they did not have something that the Arabs could boast of, they lacked a zero. This meant that in order to interpret the numbers where zero was, they had to be guided by the context in which the number was found.

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Thanks to your positional numbering system and its disposition, the arithmetic operations with their numbering they would develop following the line of arithmetic that we all know today.

With the tables they used, the complexities of long calculations could be avoided.

These included other tables that allowed square inverse calculations, powers, and even square and cube roots, demonstrating their ability in this important field.

Another important discovery about the Babylonians is that there is evidence that they had the knowledge to be able to calculate with irrational numbers. They also discovered different methods of calculating square roots, something that would take about two thousand years to discover by Ptolemy.

After studying History at the University and after many previous tests, Red Historia was born, a project that emerged as a means of dissemination where you can find the most important news of archeology, history and humanities, as well as articles of interest, curiosities and much more. In short, a meeting point for everyone where they can share information and continue learning.


Video: Mesopotamian Mathematics. MathHistory 33. N J Wildberger