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Funding for this project generously provided by Overdeck Family Foundation

around 1900–1700 BCE

Babylonian Metric Algebra Problems Tablet

Metric algebra problem texts

Each line of the MS 5112 tablet denotes a different mathematical problem. The problems include two ways to extend a square with a solution to complete the square (line 1) and a rectangle's area that is equal to its length plus the front solved with metric algebra (line 8).

Babylonian Metric Algebra Problems Tablet

While the tablet originally contained 23 metric algebra problem texts, only 13 full problems and 3 partly preserved problems remain intact. However, even in fragmentary form, the tablet attests to the proficiency of the ancient Babylonians at solving simple systems of linear and quadratic equations.

Artifact dimensions

8.9 cm × 9.8 cm × 2.7 cm

Original artifact location

Babylonia (historical name), Iraq (current name)

Current artifact location

Oslo, Norway

Catalog number

MS 5112


Algebra timeline Babylonian Metric Algebra Problems Tablet Berlin Pythagorean Theorem Papyrus Rhind Papyrus Al-Khwārizmī's Al-Jabr Khayyam's Al-jabr Cardano's Ars Magna Recorde's Whetstone of Witte Faulhaber's Academia Algebrae Wallis's Treatise of Algebra Emerson's Treatise of Algebra Hermes's Suitcase of Göttingen

Interactive Content

Computational Explanation

Other Resources

Additional Reading

  • Friberg, J. "MS 5112. A Text with Equations for Squares and Rectangles." § 11.2 in A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts: Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection: Cuneiform Texts I. New York: Springer, pp. 308–341, 2007.