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Mathematics - History of Mathematical Sciences | Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy: Procedure Texts

Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy: Procedure Texts

Ossendrijver, Mathieu

2012, XXVI, 618 p.

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  • Fully revised and expanded translation and analysis of the procedure texts of Babylonian mathematical astronomy
  • Babylonian mathematical astronomy is explained through simple concepts to increasingly complex concepts and algorithms
  • Incorporates  a typological analysis of all astronomical procedures
  • Includes a glossary of Babylonian technical astronomical terms, many of which are not adequately explained in the available dictionaries
  • Includes over 100 photos of cuneiform tablets dating from 350-50 BCE
  • Incorporates recent insights from Assyriology and translation science
  • Contains updated and expanded astronomical interpretations and investigations that have previously ignored in linguistic, mathematical and other aspects

Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy: Procedure Texts contains a new analysis of the procedure texts of Babylonian mathematical astronomy. These cuneiform tablets, excavated in Babylon and Uruk and dating from 350‒50 BCE, contain computational instructions that represent the earliest known form of mathematical astronomy of the ancient world. The targeted readership includes assyriologists, historians of science, astronomers and others with an interest in Babylonian astronomy.

The book includes new translations of all 108 available tablets that are based on a modern approach incorporating recent insights from assyriology and translation science. All translations are accompanied by commentaries and photographs of the tablets. The preceding chapters are devoted to documentary, lexical, semantic, mathematical and astronomical aspects of the procedure texts. Special attention is given to issues of mathematical representation, a topic that had previously been largely ignored. Mathematical concepts are presented in a didactic fashion, setting out from the most elementary ones (numbers and elementary operations) to more complex ones (algorithms and computational systems). Chapters devoted to the planets and the Moon contain updated and expanded reconstructions and astronomical interpretations of the algorithms.  

The author intends to continue his study of Babylonian mathematical astronomy with a new publication devoted to the Tabular Texts—the end products of Babylonian mathematical astronomy, computed with algorithms that are formulated in the present volume. The upcoming volume will contain new editions and reconstructions of over 250 tabular texts and a new philological, astronomical, and mathematical analysis of these texts.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Assyriology - Babylonian mathematical astronomy - Cuneiform studies - History of Mathematics - History of astronomy - Procedure texts of Babylonian

Related subjects » Astronomy - Astronomy, Observations and Techniques - History of Mathematical Sciences - History of Science - Linguistics

Table of contents 

Preface.- Acknowledgements.- Abbreviations and symbols.- 1. Procedure texts.- 2. Mathematical concepts – from numbers to computational systems.- 3. Planets.- 4. Moon.- 5. Critical editions.- Appendices.- Glossary.- Bibliography.- Indices.

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