Skip to comments.One of the earliest known examples of math homework
Posted on 12/01/2011 7:56:37 PM PST by thecodont
It's stuff like this that makes me love archaeology. Turns out, we can trace the concept of math homework back to at least 2300 B.C.E., in ancient Mesopotamia.
In the early 20th century, German researchers found several clay tablets at the site of uruppak. (Today, that's basically the Iraqi city of Tell Fara.) Some of the tablets appear to be the remains of math instruction, including two different tablets that are working the same story problem.
A loose translation of the problem is: A granary. Each man receives 7 sila of grain. How many men? That is, the tablets concern a highly artificial problem and certainly present a mathematical exercise and not an archival document. The tablets give the statement of the problem and its answer (164571 men - expressed in the sexagesimal system S since we are counting men - with 3 sila left over). However, one of the tablets gives an incorrect solution. When analyzing these tablets, Marvin Powell commented famously that it was, "written by a bungler who did not know the front from the back of his tablet, did not know the difference between standard numerical notation and area notation, and succeeded in making half a dozen writing errors in as many lines."
That comes from a site set up by Duncan Mellville, a math professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. He's actually got a whole collection of essays on Mesopotamian mathematics. I am certain, that by posting this, I've just ruined somebody's productivity for, like, a week.
(Excerpt) Read more at boingboing.net ...
ping... what grade is that? Probably more advanced than out high schools can understand these days. lol
How do they know it wasn’t a HR candidate exam for a grain distribution center?
Was the homework found in the midsection of a dog’s skeleton?
Mr. Powell probably could count his friends on one hand.
Re the tagline: it's probably easier to be brilliant than to not be stupid.
Shame of boingboing.
Sexagesimal is base 60 and is used for time keeping. 60 is a highly composite number, which is why it's easy to break down time into intervals such as quarter and half hours. It's very convenient when math has to be done in your head. 10 which is the base of the Communist metric system isn't highly composite.
Wouldn’t that be the fault of the Arabs for not inventing enough digits?
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
LOL! Good one!
The problem sounds so much like the ones in the high school freshman algebra texts we used—until we get to the base 60 system. Made me a little lonesome for so many friends and buddies.
We’re able to do timekeeping with a combination of the two systems.
An opening scene of Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis shows a metric clock with ten numbers instead of twelve, illustrating the improved efficiency of future industrial society.I like movie references but didn't know about that one.
Math homework...the day childhood no longer was fun in the annals of human history.
No, this is early evidence of torture. Presumably used on prisoners of war.
Math homework was fun up to Advanced Differential Equations.
I guess counting on fingers and toes wasn’t a problem.
Hey, I liked math homework until the middle of Calc III.
now that was funny
But complex eigenvalues and the associated eigenvectors are fun until they spiral out of control, and the joy of encountering something as convoluted as convolutions cannot be expressed.
Everybody has their own path and values.
you got that right.
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