A 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet was translated last August and might rewrite the history of math, suggesting that trigonometry may have been developed before the ancient Greeks.
The researchers said the tablet proves that the Babylonians developed trigonometry some 1,500 years prior to the Greeks.
“Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles,” Dr. Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of New South Wales Faculty of Science, said in a university news release. “It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius. The tablet not only contains the world’s oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry.”