Mathematical mystery of famous 3700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet solved

UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals. The new research shows the Babylonians, not the Greeks, were the first to study trigonometry – the study of triangles – and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now. Known as Plimpton 322, the small tablet was discovered in the early 1900s in what is now southern Iraq by archaeologist, academic, diplomat and antiquities dealer Edgar Banks, the person on whom the fictional character Indiana Jones was based.