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Mesopotamian maths revision

By guest editor Richard Caldwell

Posted September 05, 2017
Dr Daniel Mansfield with the babylonian trig tablet
UNSW researcher: Dr Daniel Mansfield with the Babylonian trig tablet. © UNSW/Andrew Kelly

Babylonian trig tablet rewrites mathematical history books. Richard Caldwell covers all angles.

A small tablet unearthed in southern Iraq roughly a century past by noted archaeologist Edgar Banks, himself a spiritual ancestor of famed Nazi-puncher Indiana Jones, has at long last been decoded by researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia.

And it has proven quite remarkable, rewriting a tract of history as we know it.

Written on the Babylonian tablet is evidently a unique trigonometry table, notable as trigonometry has until quite recently been believed to have been pieced together by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus around 120 BC.

But this tablet predates Hipparchus by a good 1,500 years, some 3,700 years before the here and now.

All of which means that a sizable branch of mathematics did not in fact originate with the ancient Greeks, but rather was re-appropriated through conquest or trade routes from Babylon, which was pretty much precisely where Iraq sits today.

the plimpton 322 babylonian trigonometry tablet
Up close and cuniform: Plimpton 322, to give the tablet its official name. © UNSW/Andrew Kelly

This might add new insight to the Iraq war of the last 25-some odd years, with the endgame being not to spread democracy, but to prevent the Iraqis from somehow claiming credit for democracy as well, where credit wasn't necessarily due.

Not that most Americans today are likely to know that the Greeks originated democracy, much less the maths which many of us in the States flunked right out of regardless of who founded what.

Although on a side-note, and since the US is the centre of the universe, while many modern non-coincidence theorists see a pentagram in the street designs of Washington DC, usually associated with Masonic Illuminati or some-such, there is in fact no unbroken pentagram in said street designs.

Just as the pentagram itself is not a symbol held dear by any secret handshake-wielding Freemason.

The Freemasons, it would seem, also receive undue credit.

Pythagorean theorem
Something about a hippopotamus: Pythag's theorem even works without a ruler. Public domain

But while there may be no satanic symbolism in the literal streets of the US capital city, there is another design to be found there, specifically the symbol for the Pythagorean theorem.

Taking its name from the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras, it serves as the launching point for Euclidean geometry, another field of maths entirely, and is indeed held dear by dry stone-calculating masons near and far.

The theorem being represented in the DC street design does not get publicly acknowledged very often because, maths is hard.

But returning to our mysterious Babylonian tablet, aside from conquest or trade routes, there may be another source for the apparently preternatural learning.

Iraqi officials from time to time have boasted the claim of receiving semi-regular UFO visitations going all the way back to 5,000 BC.

Back when they were planting the Garden of Eden there.

Or not.

New discoveries always bring us new food for thought, though, which is certainly grand all by itself.

Cheers, Richard. Regarding the Blazing Star, it should be noted, though, that incomplete and distorted pentagrams are themselves negative occult symbols in some traditions. Although whether any such designs have been deliberately incorporated into the street plans of Washington DC, Washington TW or indeed anywhere else is something I'm not at liberty to discuss right now. Magic Flute and all that, eh, Mozart? Anyway, it seems that the tablet Edgar Banks found is not only the world's oldest trigonometric table, but also the most accurate, which just goes to show that they really don't make 'em like they used to. Watch this vid to learn more, why dontcha?

See also Scott's fruitcake alive and well, posted 22/8/17.

Richard Caldwell
used to write for the now sadly defunct New Comics Day. Fortunately, his writings still abound elsewhere on the interweb, such as on his flippin' ace blog that you are strongly advised to check out here.

Engage with the Rake & Herald on FaceBook here and Twitter here. Better still, buy a T-shirt here.

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Mesopotamian maths revision

Dr Daniel Mansfield with the babylonian trig tablet

Babylonian trig tablet rewrites mathematical history books. Richard Caldwell covers all angles.