Tabular administrative texts as a reflection of mathematical reasoning

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By the Old Babylonian period, that is, the early second millennium BCE in Southern Iraq, some administrations began to produce texts in a tabular format, instead of a more common prosaic format. This recordkeeping practice, which had been used sporadically since the Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia (early- to mid-third millennium BCE), was a significant change in data presentation. At the same time, numerous Old Babylonian mathematical texts took on a tabular format as well. Reading these texts, one wonders, ‘How do these tabular texts from the Old Babylonian period represent mathematical reasoning?’
This paper begins to answer this question by examining both mathematical texts that take on or present a tabular format as well as tables and tabular lists in the administrative record. It asks, ‘how do the tabular texts from the Old Babylonian mathematical tradition portray mathematical reasoning?’, ‘do the Old Babylonian tabular economic texts maintain a tabular format to express mathematical reasoning?’, and finally, ‘is mathematical reasoning in the economic texts expressed in a similar manner as in the mathematical texts?’
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPractices of Reasoning in the Mathematical Sciences
EditorsChristine Proust
PublisherSpringer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
SeriesWhy the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter

ID: 276166512