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Late Babylonian Mathematical Practices

Aug 01, 2020 — Jul 31, 2022
Keilschrifttafel Ossendrijver

Keilschrifttafel Ossendrijver

Mathematical practices, e.g. counting, computing and measurement, played an important role in daily life and scholarship during the Late Babylonian period. The increasing use of mathematics in Babylonian astronomy, astrology, divination, healing practices, hermeneutics and cultic practices has influenced scholarly practices throughout the ancient world and beyond. Paradoxically, relatively little is known about Late Babylonian mathematical practices. Even for Babylon, the main center of Late Babylonian scholarship, mathematical practices are incompletely documented and have not been studied systematically. The project entails the first comprehensive study of Late Babylonian mathematical practices, including an edition of ca. 60 unpublished tablets from the Babylon-Sippar collection of the British Museum, roughly doubling the number of mathematical sources from that collection. The project investigates material, formal, epistemic, conceptual, diagrammatic, practical, contextual and institutional aspects of the tablets. It includes comparative investigations of Late Babylonian mathematical practices at Uruk and other sites, of Old Babylonian mathematical practices, and of the applications of mathematical knowledge in accounting, measurement practices and various areas of scholarship.

Institution: Institut für Altorientalistik / Institute for Ancient Near Eastern Studies
Project Management: Dr. Dr. Mathieu Ossendrijver
Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Duration: 2020-07-01 - 2022-06-30