130 previously unpublished mathematical clay tablets from the Schøyen Collection is the subject of the new book by leading expert on Babylonian mathematics, Jöran Friberg, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts, available from Springer Science+Business Media, provides a synthesis of the author's most important work. Through a close study of these tablets, Friberg has made numerous amazing discoveries, including the first known examples of pre-Classical labyrinths and mazes, a new understanding of the famous table text Plimpton 322, and new evidence of Babylonian familiarity with sophisticated mathematical ideas and objects, such as the three-dimensional Pythagorean equation and the icosahedron.

Although the book will be of greatest interest to mathematicians, science historians and assyriologists, it is structured and written to make it accessible to the widest possible audience. There is an introductory chapter entitled ‘How to get a better understanding of mathematical cuneiform texts’ and throughout the author avoids anachronisms and makes every effort to teach the reader to do the same. The approach in this book is inherently pedagogical, as Friberg illustrates all the steps of the process of interpretation and clearly explains the mathematical ideas, including terminology, metrological systems, and methods of calculation.

Drawings and colour photos of a large selection of tablets are also included. Particularly beautiful hand copies of the most complicated texts were made by Farouk Al-Rawi, Professor of Ancient Languages and Archaeology at Baghdad University.

While the book is reader-friendly, it remains as detailed and exhaustive as possible. It is the most comprehensive treatment of a set of Babylonian mathematical texts ever published and will open up this subject to a new generation of students, mathematicians, and historians of science.

Jöran Friberg is also the author or Unexpected Links Between Egyptian and Babylonian Mathematics (World Scientific 2005), and its sequel Amazing Traces of a Babylonian Origin in Greek Mathematics (World Scientific 2007).

A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts is available from 16 July 2007 direct from the publishers at theirwebsite.

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A Remarkable Collection of Babylonian Mathematical Texts
Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection: Cuneiform Texts I
Series: Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences 
By Jöran Friberg
2007, XXXII, 536 p., 259 illus., Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-387-34543-7

Note to Editors:

The Schøyen Collection crosses borders and unites cultures, religions and unique materials found nowhere else. The Collection, based in London and Oslo, contains over 20,000 significant manuscripts and other artefacts of major cultural importance and is an important part of the world’s heritage.

There is no public collection that has the Schøyen Collection’s unique array of manuscripts from all the greatest manuscript hoards, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, The Cairo Genizah of Hebrew MSS, The Oxyrhynchus hoard of classical papyri, The Dishna Biblical papyri, The Nag Hammadi Gnostic papyri, the Dunhuang hoard of Buddhist MSS, and many others. Nor is there one with such a variety, geographically, linguistically and textually, and of scripts and writing materials, covering so a great span of time — 5,000 years of history.

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