The ancient Babylonians positioned Jupiter by geometric methods

The ancient Babylonians positioned Jupiter by geometric methods


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One of the great mysteries of humanity, and that we will surely never discover its reason, is why ancient civilizations lacking the technology we have today, could determine things like the one we bring you in this post, the positioning of Jupiter by geometric methods by the Babylonians.

The news has come to light thanks to the transcription of four Babylonian tablets, which were dated between 350 and 50 BC. These reveal that this civilization used different geometric elements to be able to calculate the position of this planet.

This will makethe history of astronomy must be rewritten, since until now, it had always been thought that it had been the Europeans of the fourteenth century who knew the positions and trajectories of the planets thanks to these methods.

Mathieu Ossendrijver, from the University of Humboldt, in Germany, stated that the idea of ​​being able to calculate the displacement of a body in a space with speed and time, is mainly associated with 14th century Europe, but it has been shown that Babylonian cuneiform tablets already knew the displacement of the planet along its elliptical.

The study was published in the Science magazine a few days ago and the oldest way of calculating the position of a celestial body thanks to geometry is shown and it is suggested that the ancient Babylonian astronomers may have influenced what is the birth of this technique within Western science.

The tablets describe two intervals of the period in which Jupiter appears for the first time on the horizon, where its position is calculated at 60 and 120 days.

It is also explained that one of the tablets arrived at the British Museum in 1881 after being found in an unknown area in Iraq and presents seven lines that can be translated into instructions with which to draw graphs about the movement of the planet.

Cuneiform texts and numbers contain different geometric calculations based on the surface of a trapezoid, which can be represented with its short and long sides, something that helps to follow Jupiter through the sky, something that contrasts with what was believed until now, where it was thought that Babylonian astronomers carried out their operations only with arithmetic concepts and not geometric.

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