Oldest tablet in history of geometry in Istanbul museum
ISTANBUL – Demirören News Agency
An Australian mathematician has determined that a 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet exhibited at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum for years is the oldest known example of applied geometry on a clay tablet.
The mathematician said that it is the oldest known example of applied geometry on a 3,700-year-old clay tablet after his examinations of it in Istanbul.
“Even though it is thought to be the first mathematical tablet by considering the geometrical details on it, we, archaeologists, know that this dates back to earlier times,” Istanbul Archaeologicy Museum Director Rahmi Asal said.
According to Australian scientists, the Babylonians discovered trigonometry 1,000 years before the famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras.
The figures on the 3,700-year-old tablet, which will certainly rewrite the history of mathematics, revealed that it was used for land scale.
The ancient Babylonian tablet, called Si.427, which is dated between 1,900 and 1600 BC, was unearthed in 1894 at Sippar in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. But the tablet was not understood until it was analyzed by Daniel Mansfield of the University of New South Wales in Australia. He explained that it is the earliest known example of applied geometry on the 3,700-year-old clay tablet.
The tablet has been on display at the Istanbul Archeology Museum for years.
“It is an interesting situation. We are talking about an artifact that has been on display for nearly 20 years. The tablet is indeed a very important tablet. It was discovered in 1894 during the work of a French archaeologist under the direction of the Ottoman archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey,” Asal said.
“It is associated with geometry because of the geometric shapes on it. It came to the fore after the study by Mansfield. Although it is thought to be the first mathematical tablet due to the geometrical details on it, we, archaeologists know that it dates back to earlier times. In the study, it was associated with the Pythagorean theorem. Based on this, it is claimed that this tablet is a cadastral document and benefited from the science of mathematics. We don’t agree that it is the first and the only one,” he added.
Stating that a new exhibition will be held with tablets with interesting themes, Asal said: “The showcase, where the tablet is on display, also displays the other tablet samples with interesting themes. This tablet has become popular recently thanks to the study. But there are other tablet which are as important as this one. For example, we have an amulet and a times table. We want to bring these tablets to light, too.”