Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia have finally solved the mystery behind the purpose of famous 3700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet.
Known as Plimpton 322, the tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in southern Iraq. Researchers assert this ancient clay tablet was world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table used for the construction of palaces and temples and build canals.
"Plimpton 322 has puzzled mathematicians for more than 70 years, since it was realised it contains a special pattern of numbers called Pythagorean triples", Dr Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the UNSW Faculty of Science said in a statement.
"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 arithmetical and geometry.", he further added.
The tablet has 15 rows of numbers written in cuneiform over four columns. It uses a base 60 numeral system (called “sexagesimal”), which originated with ancient Sumerians.
The study that was published in Historia Mathematica, also reveals that the Babylonians, not the Greeks, were the first to study trigonometry making it a remarkable discovery in its own way.