Scientists say a 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet they've studied is the world's oldest, most accurate trigonometric table. It predates Pythagoras and the Greek system of trigonometry by about 1,000 years. The tablet shows a simpler and more accurate system than the Greek-based trigonometry we use today. It's based on ratios instead of angles and circles. It is thought the ancient Babylonians used the system to survey the land and build temples and canals in what is now Iraq.
Class discussion: Do you think other knowledge from ancient civilizations has been lost over the centuries? What secrets do imagine were lost when the Romans burned the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt? After the fall of Rome, who preserved the ancient knowledge of science, politics and literature that western Europe rediscovered in the Renaissance? The trigonometry tablet used the Babylonian number system which had a base of 60 instead of 10. How is this base 60 number system still used?
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