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Trigonometric table found on 3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet

The world’s oldest trigonometric table has been found on a 3,700-year-old cuneiform tablet housed at Columbia University.

At least 1,000 years before the Greek mathematician Pythagoras looked at a right angled triangle and worked out that the square of the longest side is always equal to the sum of the squares of the other two, an unknown Babylonian genius took a clay tablet and a reed pen and marked out not just the same theorem, but a series of trigonometry tables which scientists claim are more accurate than any available today.

The 3,700-year-old broken clay tablet survives in the collections of Columbia University, and scientists now believe they have cracked its secrets.

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Story: Maev Kennedy, The Guardian | Photo: UNSW/Andrew Kelly

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