3,700 Year-Old Babylonian Tablet Decoded

A century ago Edgar Banks discovered a clay tablet from southern Iraq, in 1945 it was realized that the tablet is known as Plimpton 322 and had mathematical importance, but it remained mystery.

Its meaning are now understood and given insight into Babylonian mathematics. Study has revealed that it represents part of trigonometric table and even more accurate which came afterwards.

Plimpton 322 was discovered from the location what was once city of Larsa, which indicates it is 3700 years old belonging to the time of Hammurabi who came up with earliest surviving legal codes.

Plimpton 322 puzzled mathematician for over seventy years, realizing it contains Pythagorean triples. Pythagorean triples are any whole numbers a, b, and c that can form a right-angle triangle through the formula a2 + b2 = c2.

Mansfield became interested in it and in collaboration of his colleague Dr. Norman Wildberger unraveled it. In 2005 Wildberger published a book explaining that any problem that can be solved using traditional trigonometric methods can also be solved using his technique based on ratio of sides and not angles.

The trigonometry table of Plimpton 322 was rejected but this was done in the absence of an understanding of Wildberger’s methods.

Information Source: Mansfield

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