Lost mathematics culture of Babylon rediscovered
3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet rewrites the history of maths - and shows the Greeks did not develop trigonometryIt is an interesting discovery that could have benefits today. It was lost for centuries because of the cultural collapse of Babylon and the failure of succeeding cultures in the region to comprehend what was found. While the Greek model may not be as good, it has the benefit of having been preserved and passed down to western civilization where it has been successfully used.
The tablet, known as Plimpton 332, was discovered in the early 1900s in Southern Iraq by the American archaeologist and diplomat Edgar Banks, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones.
The true meaning of the tablet has eluded experts until now but new research by the University of New South Wales, Australia, has shown it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, which was probably used by ancient architects to construct temples, palaces and canals.
However unlike today’s trigonometry, Babylonian mathematics used a base 60, or sexagesimal system, rather than the 10 which is used today. Because 60 is far easier to divide by three, experts studying the tablet, found that the calculations are far more accurate.