In recent years, there have been all kinds of anthropological breakthroughs radically shifting our ideas of ancient life and the capacities of our prehistory predecessors — from the discovery of the world’s oldest home in South Africa to new evidence that titanium dioxide was utilized in Inca objects some 400 years before its “discovery” in the United States. In the same vein, research performed by scientists at UNSW Sydney has revealed that a famous 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet is inscribed with accurate trigonometry.
The translation on the tablet, called Plimpton 322, was performed by a team including Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the UNSW Faculty of Science. The analysis of the tablet’s contents, which feature four columns and 15 rows of numbers written in the cuneiform script of the time, has identified the tablet as the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometry table. It also indicates that the Babylonians, rather than the Greeks, were the first to make a formal mathematical study of triangles. Jump back, Pythagoras!
“Plimpton 322 has puzzled mathematicians for more than 70 years, since it was realised it contains a special pattern of numbers called Pythagorean triples,” said Mansfield in a press release from UNSW.
“Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles,” continued Mansfield. “The tablet not only contains the world’s oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry.” The numeric calculations on the tablet use a base 60, or sexagesimal, system.
A study on the tablet by Mansfield and UNSW Associate Professor Norman Wildberger was published in Historia Mathematica in 2017, and concludes that the Babylonians discovered exact sexagesimal trigonometry at least 1,500 years before the ancient Greeks discovered trigonometry. It seems that anthropology and mathematics have teamed up to strike an acute blow for the mathletes of Ancient Babylon!
From 1968 to 1973, the Nihon Documentarist Union did radical documentary work in Japan. They made two films in Okinawa before, during, and after its reversion.
Every corner and crevice of Columbia University’s MFA Thesis show feels lived in, reflecting not just artists’ experience quarantining with their work, but also that of re-entering society.
Curated by Clare Dolan, this solo exhibition in Frenchtown, NJ contains new and unearthed paintings, sculptures, and prints selected from the organization’s 60-year history.
Sprawling across the Joshua Tree region, nine site-specific works consider the ways in which people have relocated to the desert, destroying what came before them, and cultivating new life.
The rendition could be a platform for essential conversations on sociohistorical and economic land rights issues.
Conversations with Leslie Barlow, Mary Griep, Alexa Horochowski, Joe Sinness, Melvin R. Smith, and Tetsuya Yamada will be accessible online or in person at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
The UK has long refused to return the contested sculptures, which were stripped from the Parthenon in the 1800s.
The National Gallery of Art launched a new artwork guessing game inspired by the super-popular Wordle.
Now on view in Pasadena, this exhibition explores how four artists challenged the limitations of gestural abstraction by exploiting the resonance of figural forms.
The union said that grass hedges were erected around the entrance, blocking the gala’s guests from seeing the protest outside.
The small New York art fair celebrated its 26th edition with the works of 11 women artists.
The artist couple shared creativity and mutual devotion reflecting a period of light and joy that came after considerable darkness in their early lives.