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Babylonian astronomers calculated Jupiter’s motion

Research carried out on cuneiform tablets from the British Museum have revealed that the Babylonians calculated the position of Jupiter between 350-50 B.C.

On four of these tablets the distance covered by Jupiter is computed as the area of a figure that represents how its velocity changes with time. None of the tablets contains drawings but, as Mathieu Ossendrijver explains, the texts describe the figure of which the area is computed as a trapezoid. Two of these so-called trapezoid texts had been known since 1955, but their meaning remained unclear, even after two further tablets with these operations were discovered in recent years.

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Story: | Photo: Mathieu Ossendrijver (HU)

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