Dictionary of dead language complete after 90 years - BBC News
A full dictionary of the extinct language of ancient Mesopotamia has been completed after 90 years of work.

Assyrian and Babylonian - dialects of the language collectively known as Akkadian - have not been spoken for almost 2,000 years. The entire dictionary costs $1,995 (£1,230; 1,400 euros), but is also available for free online - a far cry from the dictionary’s low-tech beginnings.

Babylonians Tracked Jupiter with Fancy Math, Tablet Reveals

BERLIN — For a text that may rewrite the history of mathematics, it looks rather sloppy.

The brown clay tablet, which could fit in the palm of your hand, is scrawled with hasty, highly abbreviated cuneiform characters. And, according to science historian Mathieu Ossendrijver, it proves that the ancient Babylonians used a complex geometrical model that looks like a rudimentary form of integral calculus to calculate the path of Jupiter. Scientists previously thought this mathematical technique was invented in medieval Europe.

“It sounds minute for a layperson, but this geometry is of a very special kind that is not found anywhere else, for instance, in ancient Greek astronomy,” Ossendrijver said. “It is an application in astronomy that was totally new. Thus far everybody thought Babylonian scholars only computed with numbers.” Read more.
This ancient Babylonian map of Jupiter just changed history as we know it
You're looking at the foundations of modern calculus.
By Bec Crew

Analysis of an ancient codebreaking tablet has revealed that Babylonian astronomers had calculated the movements of Jupiter using an early form of geometric calculus some 1,400 years before we thought the technique was invented by the Europeans.

This means that these ancient Mesopotamian astronomers had not only figured out how to predict Jupiter’s paths more than 1,000 years before the first telescopes existed, but they were using mathematical techniques that would form the foundations of modern calculus as we now know it.

“This shows just how highly developed this ancient culture was,” historian Matthieu Ossendrijver from Humboldt University in Germany told Maddie Stone at Gizmodo. “I don’t think anybody expected something like this would be discovered in a Babylonian text.”

Continue Reading.


MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN — The Writing’s on the Wall,

 According to Biblical history in the Book of Daniel, the Babylonian King Belshazzar once hosted a large feast while the city of Babylon was under siege by the Medes and Persians in 539 BC. The Babylonian Empire had previously conquered the Kingdom of Judah and Israel, and the Hebrew people were in exile.  During the feast, King Belshazzar and his court were using treasures taken from the Hebrew Temple as decorations, drinking vessels, and dinnerware.  Suddenly, in the midst of the feasting, the hand God appeared from the sky, and wrote in large Hebrew letters upon the wall, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN”. Belshazzar has his diviners and magicians attempt to read and interpret the writing, but they cannot.  So Belshazzar sends for the Prophet Daniel.

Daniel interprets the writing, “Number, number, weighed, and divided”. While cryptic, the meaning of it is simple.  Belshazzar’s days are numbered, the Babylonian Empire has been weighed and found wanting, and the empire will be divided among the invaders.  The next day the Medes and Persians breeched the walls of Babylon, Belshazzar is killed, and the empire fell.  MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.

Babylonian Astronomers Described Jupiter’s Motion

“ BERLIN, GERMANY—Historian of science Mathieu Ossendrijver of Humboldt University, using the texts from three published and two unpublished cuneiform tablets from the British Museum, realized that the Babylonians calculated the position of the planet Jupiter with geometrical methods between 350 and 50 B.C. It had been thought that Babylonian astronomers used only arithmetical methods, and that such geometrical computations were not carried out until the fourteenth century. 

Ossendrijver had been studying four tablets with texts that describe trapezoids when Hermann Hunger of the University of Vienna brought him a photograph of a fifth, uncatalogued tablet that does not describe a trapezoid, but does describe an astronomical computation that is mathematically equivalent to the others, and can be assigned to Jupiter. “The crucial new insight provided by the new tablet without the geometrical figure is that Jupiter’s velocity decreases linearly within the 60 days. Because of the linear decrease a trapezoidal figure emerges if one draws the velocity against time,” Ossendrijver explained in a press release. “It is this trapezoidal figure of which the area is computed on the other four tablets.””

Clay Tablet Reveals Ancient Babylonians Used Calculus to Track Jupiter 1,500 Years before Europeans

A new analysis of a set of ancient clay tablets has revealed that ancient astronomers of Babylonia used advanced geometrical methods to calculate the position of Jupiter – a conceptual leap that was previously thought to have occurred in 14th century Europe.

Read More…
This Babylonian Astronomy Text Changes History
More than a thousand years before the first telescopes, Babylonian astronomers tracked the motion of planets across the night sky using simple arithmetic. But a newly translated text reveals that these ancient stargazers also used a far more advanced method, one that foreshadows the development of calculus over a thousand years later.
By Maddie Stone

Babylonians using a method from calculus?

Ancient cultures couldn’t *possibly* be advanced. The Enlightenment was the only time humankind developed methods of rigorously investigating the world. Right?

(Clue: No. This is sarcasm)


Plimo asked Rebbi:  If one has two heads, on which one should he place his tefillin? Rebbi responded: Either go into exile or accept excommunication.  Meanwhile, a man came to the academy saying that he just begotten a two-headed son and wanted to know how much must be given to the priest for the redemption of the first-born.
—  Babylonian Talmud, Menachot 37a
“Her hands are stained with flesh and blood.” (TCL 6 49 r.13-29)

This incantation includes a common magical element: a deity showing how to solve a problem, so the petitioner can follow their example.  In this case, the demoness Lamashtu is diverted from her bloodlust by equipping her to be an ordinary woman rather than a monster.


She is furious, she is fierce, she is divine, she is dazzling —
        and she is a she-wolf, the daughter of Anu!
Her feet are talons [1]; her hands are unclean;
        her face looks like the face of a savage lion.
She rose up from a reed-thicket,
        her hair hanging loose, her panties cut away.
She travels the tracks of cattle; she follows the tracks of sheep.
        Her hands are stained with flesh and blood.
She enters through the window;
        she slithers in like a snake.
She moves in and out of houses.

Keep reading