Math 323: Fall 2005

Day 1: Introduction

Introduction and overview of the course

Aims and scope of the course.
Go over the syllabus.
Discuss sources and readings - reserve materials, reference materials, online databases.

Introduction to Ancient & Classical Civilizations

Location in space and time.
See the Historical Atlas material resources map.

Overview of Mesopotamian history

Map of Mesopotamia from Oriental Institute and CDLI.
Historical Atlas political change map.

See my political summary, chronology, and Mesopotamian mathematical summary.

Pre-History: From tokens to Bullae

         Read my tokens page and look at:
Simple tokens from Uruk
Complex tokens from Uruk
Bulla from Uruk
CAT scan of a bulla (all from CDLI)
The key point to note here is that there were different sets of 'numerical' symbols, depending on what was being measured.

Archaic Mathematics

        The key point to note here is that there were different sets of 'numerical' symbols, depending on what was being measured.   
        Some nice examples of archaic tablets from CDLI:
MSVO 3,3; MSVO 3,82; MSVO 4,66; W 19408,76; MSVO 3,11
        Read my Sumerian metrology page

Handouts

Syllabus
Maps of Mesopotamia
Sumerian metrological systems
Archaic account 

Homework

Go over the historical links above and read the material there carefully.
Think about the ways Mesopotamia was different to modern society and how that would affect the role and practice of mathematics.  Who needed mathematics then?  Why did they need it?  What sort of mathematics did they need?  What problems could mathematics solve?

Do the analysis of the archaic account.

Readings to prepare for Day 2 are on the Day 2 page.

On to Day 2.


Up to Ancient and Classical Mathematics


Last modified: 27 August 2005
Duncan J. Melville

Comments to dmelville@stlawu.edu