## Math 323: Fall 2005

## Day 3: Cuneiform arithmetic

### Summary

The development of cuneiform and the sexagesimal
place-value
system.

Ur III records and Old Babylonian sources.

Cuneiform arithmetic in Old Babylonian period. Table texts.

Note the importance in Old Babylonian mathematics of multiplication,
and the attendant problem of reciprocals.

Note also the centrality of the 'list principle'.

### Reading

My Old Babylonian pages:

the OB summary,

the two pages on cuneiform numbers: numbers
up to 60 and larger
numbers,

the pages on multiplication
and reciprocal
table texts.

Look at some real table tablets (follow links from the mesomath top page).

### Additional Reading

H.J. Nissen, P. Damerow, R.K. Englund, *Archaic
Bookkeeping*, Chapter 15.

### Homework

Practice
with cuneiform numbers.

Cuneiform arithmetic exercises.

Translate a multiplication table from a copy.

On to Day 4.

Up to Ancient
and Classical Mathematics

Last modified: 5 September 2005
Duncan
J. Melville

Comments to dmelville@stlawu.edu