research product

Neither Sherlock Holmes nor Babylon: a reassessment of Plimpton 322

Eleanor Robson;
Open Access English
  • Country: United Kingdom
Abstract
<p>Ancient mathematical texts and artefacts, if we are to understand them fully, must be viewed in the light of their mathematico-historical context, and not treated as artificial, self-contained creations in the style of detective stories. I take as a dramatic case study the famous cuneiform tablet Plimpton 322. I show that the popular view of it as some sort of trigonometric table cannot be correct, given what is now known of the concept of angle in the Old Babylonian period. Neither is the equally widespread theory of generating functions likely to be correct. I provide supporting evidence in a strong theoretical framework for an alternative interpretation, f...
Subjects
free text keywords: Cuneiform, History, Intellectual History, Mathematics, Near East
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Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage
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