(ORDO NEWS) — The tablet demonstrates that the Babylonians knew the Pythagorean theorem even before Pythagoras.
The tablet is engraved with the dimensions of a piece of land, calculated using trigonometric methods and Pythagorean triplets: this is the oldest evidence of geometry ever discovered.
When four thousand years ago a Babylonian land surveyor engraved the boundaries of some land on a tablet, he probably did not imagine that his work was destined to change the archeology of the future.
While analyzing a tablet kept at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, Daniel Mansfield, a mathematician at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, actually discovered that the ancient Mesopotamian peoples knew the Pythagorean theorem even before Pythagoras himself.
“What I wrote on the clay tablet proves that the ancient Babylonians knew many of the basic concepts of geometry, including those related to the construction of right triangles, applying the concepts to practical problems,” explains Mansfield.
Si427 (the name given to the tablet) has been engraved with cuneiform symbols which undoubtedly correspond to a long series of Pythagorean triplets.
An ancient surveyor recorded the calculations needed to divide a piece of land, dividing it into rectangles with an accuracy that, according to the scientist, leaves no room for doubt:
The rectangles are precise: the surveyor calculated them using Pythagorean triples: 3, 4, 5; 8, 15, 17; 5, 12, 13. In addition, according to the characteristics of the tablet, we understand how a person did engraving “in real time”, drawing lines on clay while on the ground.
But the last aspect is still not deciphered: the presence of a number with a sexagesimal base, 25:29, which still has no interpretation. This may be a sequence of calculations or the area of some other area, but so far this remains a mystery.
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