09 Feb Plimpton 322 is Babylonian exact sexagesimal trigonometry
Plimpton 322 is Babylonian exact sexagesimal trigonometry
We trace the origins of trigonometry to the Old Babylonian era, between the 19th and 16th centuries B.C.E. This is well over a millennium before Hipparchus is said to have fathered the subject with his ‘table of chords’. The main piece of evidence comes from the most famous of Old Babylonian tablets: Plimpton 322, which we interpret in the context of the Old Babylonian approach to triangles and their preference for numerical accuracy. By examining the evidence with this mindset, and comparing Plimpton 322 with Madhava’s table of sines, we demonstrate that Plimpton 322 is a powerful, exact ratio-based trigonometric table.
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