Babylonian Mathematics


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Babylonian was another one of the great ancient Mediterranean civilisations. Which others can you think of? Have a look at the map below.

click on the image to get a bigger picture

Babylonian civilisation flourished in the plains of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and covered very roughly what Iraq covers today.

The region was the base of the Summerian civilisation around 3500 BC. A thousand years or more later the Akkadians invaded them. Summerians developed a sophisticated irrigation system, and had a developed system of state administration, with taxes, legal system, and even a postal system. Akkadians brought with them the abacus - Summerians already had a sexagesimal system of counting, where the number base is not 10 like in our system, but 60.

In around 2000 BC the Babylonians invaded Mesopotamia and established their capital in Babylon. Summerians had already developed a cuneiform system of writing - wedge shaped symbols made by stylus which was usually made from reed. The stylus was used to make wedge symbols on wet clay tablets which were then baked in the sun. Many of these tablets survive to our day. Babylonians inherited cuneiform system of writing, and so their tablets are written in the same way.

One of the most famous of all tablets made by Babylonians is the Plimpton 322 - click here to learn more about it.

Click here to see Babylonian numerals and here to learn more about their sexagesimal system (base 60).



See other pages on Babylonian maths:

Babylonian Numerals

The most famous Babylonian maths tablet - Plimpton 322


You can also download a sheet with Babylonian numerals by clicking on the number man below


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