Mathematician Discovers Oldest Evidence of Applied Math in a 3700-year-old TABLET

Mathematician Discovers Oldest Evidence of Applied Math in a 3700-year-old TABLET

A mathematician discovered the oldest evidence of applied math on a clay tablet.

Known as the Si.427, the tablet holds information on measuring land boundaries.

Dr. Daniel Mansfield said that ancient societies don’t accidentally come up with formulas using complex math. 

Instead, they are  “usually doing something practical.” 

The ancient tablet has markings of marshy fields, paved roads, and nearby towers.

“Si.427 is about a piece of land that’s being sold.” 

The rectangles in the stone represent a land with opposites, equal sides. 

Mansfield suggested that ancient mapmakers already found a way to create lines with right angles.

“Much like we would today, you’ve got private individuals trying to figure out where their land boundaries are.”

Modern mapping uses GPS. However, those people would use the Pythagorean theorem.

Knowing the theorem means that the “society has reached a particular level of mathematical intelligence.”

He also noted that this discovery has important impacts on the history of mathematics.

Meanwhile, carbon dating showed that the tablet is from the Old Babylonian period (1900-1600 BCE). Therefore, the tablet is now 3,700 years old.

Archaeologists unearthed the stone in Iraq during the late 1900s.

Until then, it remained in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum before Dr. Mansfield tracked it down.

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Photo: University of New South Wales