The recent discovery of some clay tablets belonging to the ancient civilization of Babylon revealed the fact that Babylonians were math whizzes. It seems that they used complex geometrical calculations 1,400 years before they were officially invented in order to track the movements of the planet Jupiter.
It seems that calculus was not invented where we originally thought it was. Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton were not that original in the 17th century when they devised the calculus method. It seems that they were actually really late with their findings compared to what ancient Babylonians were carving on their clay tablets while looking for Jupiter.
A team of researchers found a couple of clay tablets that date back from 350 to 50 BC. The symbols carved into them proved to be nothing other than geometric calculations meant to track the movements of the gas giant, Jupiter.
According to the recent findings published in the Science journal last Thursday, the Babylonians used a technique that tracks the distance traveled by a body using a graph of the time lapse and velocity. Originally this technique was supposed to be developed in 1350 in England. The time lapse between the two civilizations is enormous.
The author of the study published in the Science journal, Mathieu Ossendrijver, says that the calculus method employed by the ancient Babylonians is rather similar to the modern day integral calculus. The ancient people were using a rectangle with an inclined top and a trapezoid. The trapezoid was used to represent the area under the curve. They computed the area of the trapezoid that is used to describe how the velocity of an object changes with time. The area described is equal to the distance traveled by Jupiter.
This is the first evidence found by archaeologists and scientists that proves that the ancient people were using calculus and geometry for astronomical observations. This means that the Babylonians were math whizzes all on their own.
Jupiter was, in the case of the Romans, the god of thunder and sky, ruler of all the other gods. The Greeks attributed the planet to Zeus, the equivalent of Jupiter. The ancient Babylonians thought that the bright star in the sky was none other than Marduk, their own supreme deity, master of all others.
It is interesting how all of these different civilizations attributed the role of supreme deity to the exact same planet. And that the twinkle in the sky could predict water levels or the status of the next crop.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org