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Wooden tablet with multiplication sums found in Japan

A wooden tablet etched with multiplication sums, dating back to the late Nara Period (710-784), has been unearthed in Nara, Japan.

It is believed that the wooden tablet, or “mokkan,” was used by an official for times table practice.

“The characters are not that tidy, and it was probably used by a lower-ranked official to diligently study the multiplication table,” said institute official Akihiro Watanabe. “In the area there is a mixture of wooden tablets bearing the names of high-ranking officials in beautiful block script characters and tablets bearing poorly written characters, which is interesting.”

The tablet measures 16.3 centimeters long and 1.5 centimeters wide. On one side it bears part of the sum of “3×9=27,” together with the sums “2×9=18” and “1×9=9.” On the reverse side are “5×8=40,” “4×8=32,” and part of the sum “3×8=24.”

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