An almost 4000-year-old clay tablet displays an early form of applied geometry practiced by the ancient Babylonians, thousands of years before the math was initially thought to have been discovered.
Did The Babylonians Have Geometry?
Trigonometry was largely understood to have been first discovered by the Greeks around the second century BCE. The word itself came from a combination of the Greek words for ‘earth’ and ‘measure.’
Prominent figures such as Euclid and Pythagoras created foundations and theorems that were instrumental in advancing the understanding of mathematics throughout the western world. Some of their work is still being used in current modern applications, such as Pythagoras’ theorem regarding right triangles.
While the Greeks may have had the greatest impact worldwide with their mathematical discoveries, it would eventually be revealed that they were not the first. In 2017, researchers at the University of New South Wales found a famous Babylonian tablet from 3,700 years ago, known as “Plimpton 322,” (seen below) that contained a trigonometric table inscribed on it. It had sequences of numbers that are known as Pythagorean triples, despite it being thousands of years before Pythagoras lived when the tablet was used.