A Survey of Publications on Sumero-Akkadian Mathematics, Metrology and Related Matters (1854–1982). (AOAT 462)

A Survey of Publications on Sumero-Akkadian Mathematics, Metrology and Related Matters (1854–1982). (AOAT 462)


Manfried Dietrich, Thomas Kämmerer


Jöran Friberg / Jens Høyrup


On the preceding pages, I have tried to write a brief historical survey of what has been published during the last 125 years, or so, in various books and journals, on the subject of “Sumero-Akkadian mathematics, metrology and related matters”. As should be clear from my division of the survey into subsections, my intention has been to consider the following main topics:  

1–3. The initial struggle, lasting half a century or more, to understand the nature of the many diverse systems of expressing numbers and measures, used in the cuneiform texts of the Sumerians and their successors during two and a half millennium. 

4–5. The efforts to understand the method of construction and the purpose of certain unusually complicated or enigmatic table texts (combined multiplication tables, reciprocal tables, ...) or algorithm texts (computations of sequences of pairs of reciprocals, or of Pythagorean triples, etc., square root extraction through factorization, ...). 

6–8. The difficult work with the interpretation of OB and Seleucid mathematical problem texts, culminating in the volumes of mathematical cuneiform texts MKT 1–3, TMB, MCT (and TMS). 

9–13. The escape from the limitations of the previous studies, as new mathematical texts started coming in from controlled excavations, not only in Mesopotamia but also in the neighboring countries, Iran (Susa, ...), Syria (Ebla, Ugarit ), etc., and as more and more texts of mathematical interest were identified belonging to various pre-Babylonian periods (Ur III, Sargonic, Fara, proto-literate). Thus, as a result of the most recent developments, it now seems that a fairly complete picture is emerging of the evolution of mathematical and metrological ideas and practices in the Middle East, from the pre-literate record keeping by use of clay tokens and all the way to the very sophisticated Seleucid mathematical tables and problem texts. 


Bibliographische Angaben

Reihe + Nummer: AOAT 462


ISBN: 978-3-86835-360-0


Erscheinungsjahr: 2023


Seitenanzahl: xii + 159 pp.

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