79. Mathematical text BM 13901, the manual of quadratic problems

Artifact: Clay tablet
Provenience: unknown (Larsa?)
Period: Old Babylonian
Current location: British Museum (BM 13901)
Text genre, language: Mathematical procedure text, Akkadian
CDLI page

This tablet is one of the oldest and most important of the Old Babylonian mathematical corpus. The text is a list of 24 problems dealing with the sides and the surface of rectangles and squares. These problems are organized from simple to complex, as variations increasingly learned, and exhibit fundamental methods for solving the basic types of quadratic problems. This systematic exposition of Old Babylonian algebra was compared by Maurice Caveing with Book II of Euclid's Elements.


  • Neugebauer, O. (1935-1937), Mathematische Keilschrifttexte I-III, Berlin: Springer, vol. III, p. 1-14
  • Thureau-Dangin, F. (1938), Textes Mathématiques Babyloniens, Leiden: Ex Oriente Lux, p. 1-10.


  • Caveing, M. (1994), Essai sur le savoir mathématique dans la Mésopotamie et l'Egypte anciennes, Presses Universitaires de Lille, p 35 ss.
  • Høyrup, J. (2002), Lengths, Widths, Surfaces. A Portrait of Old Babylonian Algebra and Its Kin, Berlin & Londres: Springer, p. 50-60; 66-77

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79._mathematical_text_bm_13901.txt · Last modified: 2016/05/10 20:55 by gombert
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