Mathematics, Metrology, And Professional Numeracy

Authored by: Eleanor Robson

The Babylonian World

Print publication date:  August  2007
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415353465
eBook ISBN: 9780203946237
Adobe ISBN: 9781134261284

10.4324/9780203946237.ch29

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Abstract

Since the great decipherments of the 1930s and 1940s (Neugebauer 1935–37; Thureau-Dangin 1938; Neugebauer and Sachs 1945) Babylonia has had a well-deserved reputation as the home of the world’s first ‘true’ mathematics, in which abstract ideas and techniques were explored and developed with no immediate practical end in mind. It is commonly understood that the base 60 systems of time measurement and angular degrees have their ultimate origins in Babylonia, and that ‘Pythagoras’ theorem’ was known there a millennium before Pythagoras himself was supposed to have lived.

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