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around 1900 to 1600 BCE

Babylonian Sippar Recombination Text

Babylonian recombination text from Sippar

Old Babylonian tablet BM 85194, held by the British Museum, is a recombination text from Sippar, an ancient Sumerian and later Babylonian city on the bank of the Euphrates River. It contains problems for various kinds of solids.

Babylonian Sippar Recombination Text

Exercise 4 gives a computation rule for the volume of a circular dike with a trapezoidal cross-section. Exercises 10–13 are very brief and impossible to understand without their original context. They also show confusion by the writer between the terms ki.lá (weight) and im.lá (weight per volume). A possible interpretation of exercises 10–11 is as the weight of clay in a rectangular pit of certain specified dimensions. Problems 22, 24, 34 and 35 concern a cylinder, or silá.

Artifact dimensions

15.2 cm × 21.2 cm

Original artifact location

Sippar (historical name), Babil, Iraq (current name)

Current artifact location

British Museum, London

Catalog number

BM 85194


Geometry timeline Babylonian Nested Triangle Tablet Babylonian Geometrical Problem Tablet Babylonian Sippar Recombination Text Moscow Mathematical Papyrus Euclid's Elements Euclid Diagram Papyrus Moche Net Balance Scale Al-Tusi's Commentary on the Elements

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Computational Explanation

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Additional Reading

  • Anonymous. Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum. London, p. 9 and pl. 8–13, 1896.
  • Friberg, J. A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts: Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection: Cuneiform Texts I. New York: Springer, pp. 281, 294 and 298–299, 2007.
  • Friberg, J. and Al-Rawi, F. N. H. §8.1.4 (exercises 10–13), §8.5.12 (exercise 4), §11.3.1 (exercises 22, 24, 34, and 35) in New Mathematical Cuneiform Texts. Springer, pp. 298, 345–353 and 463–465, 2016.
  • Neugebauer, O. Mathematische Keilschrifttexte I. Berlin: Springer, pp. 142–146, 1935.
  • Neugebauer, O. The Exact Sciences in Antiquity, 2nd ed. New York: Dover, p. 14 and pl. 3, 1969.
  • Neugebauer, O. and Sachs, A. (Ed.). Mathematical Cuneiform Texts. New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society and the American Schools of Oriental Research, pp. 96–97, 1945.
  • Sigrist, M.; Zadok, R.; and Walker, C. B. F. Catalogue of the Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum, III. London, BMP, 2006.