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Mathematics - History of Mathematical Sciences | A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts - Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection:

A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts

Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection: Cuneiform Texts I

Friberg, Jöran

2007, XX, 533 p.

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  • Author is a leading authority on Babylonian mathematics
  • Includes analysis of tablets which have never been studied before
  • Provides new insight into Babylonian understanding of sophisticated mathematical objects
  • More than 300 figures, many in color

This new text from Jöran Friberg, the leading expert on Babylonian mathematics, presents 130 previously unpublished mathematical clay tablets from the Norwegian Schøyen collection, and provides a synthesis of the author's most important work. Through a close study of these tablets, Friberg has made numerous amazing discoveries, including the first known examples of pre-Classical labyrinths and mazes, a new understanding of the famous table text Plimpton 322, and new evidence of Babylonian familiarity with sophisticated mathematical ideas and objects, such as the three-dimensional Pythagorean equation and the icosahedron.

In order to make the text accessible to the largest possible audience, the author has included an introductory chapter entitled, "How to get a better understanding of mathematical cuneiform texts." Throughout the text he avoids anachronisms and makes every effort to teach the reader to do the same. The approach in this book is inherently pedagogical, as Friberg illustrates all the steps of the process of interpretation and clearly explains the mathematical ideas, including terminology, metrological systems, and methods of calculation. Drawings and color photos of a large selection of tablets are also included. Particularly beautiful hand copies of the most complicated texts were made by Farouk Al-Rawi, professor of Ancient Languages and Archaeology at Baghdad University.

While the book is reader-friendly, it remains as detailed and exhaustive as possible. It is the most comprehensive treatment of a set of Babylonian mathematical texts ever published and will open up this subject to a new generation of students, mathematicians, and historians of science.

Jöran Friberg is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. He has recently published the book Unexpected Links Between Egyptian and Babylonian Mathematics (World Scientific 2005), and its sequel Amazing Traces of a Babylonian Origin in Greek Mathematics (World Scientific 2007).

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Mathematica - arithmetic - equation - geometry - mathematics

Related subjects » History of Mathematical Sciences

Table of contents 

Acknowledgements.- Introduction.- Documentation of Provenance.- Abbreviations.- How to Get a Better Understanding of Mathematical Cuneiform Texts.- Old Babylonian Arithmetical Hand Tablets.- Old Babylonian Arithmetical Table Texts.- Old Babylonian Metrological Table Texts.- Mesopotamian Weight Stones.- Neo-Sumerian Field Maps (Ur III).- An Old Sumerian Metro-Mathematical Table Text (Early Dynastic IIIa).- Old Babylonian Hand Tablets with Practical Mathematics.- Old Babylonian Hand Tablets with Geometric Exercises.- The Beginning and the End of the Sumerian King List.- Three Old Babylonian Mathematical Problem Texts from Uruk.- Three Problem Texts Not Belonging to Any Known Group of Texts.- App. 1. Subtractive Notations for Numbers in Mathematical Cuneiform Texts.- App. 2. The Old Babylonian Combined Multiplication Table.- App. 3. An Old Babylonian Combined Arithmetical Algorithm.- App. 4. Cuneiform Systems of Notations for Numbers and Measures.- App. 5. Old Babylonian Complete Metrological Tables.- App. 6. Metro-Mathematical Cuneiform Texts from the Third Millennium BC.- App. 7. CUNES 50-08-001. A Combined Metro-Mathematical Table Text (ED IIIb).- App. 8. Plimpton 322, a Table of Parameters for igi–igi.bi Problems.- App. 9. Many-Place Squares of Squares in Late Babylonian Mathematical Texts.- App. 10. Color Photos of Selected Texts.- Vocabulary for the MS Texts.- Index of Subjects.- Index of Texts.- References.

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