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Babylonians tracked Jupiter with sophisticated geometry

Babylonian astronomical information

Trustees of the British Museum/Mathieu Ossendrijver.

(from John Timmer – Ars Technica)

Even when a culture leaves┬ábehind extensive written records, it can be hard to understand their knowledge of technology and the natural world. Written records are often partial, and writers may have been unaware of some technology or simply considered it unremarkable. That’s why the ancient world can still offer up surprises like the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient mechanical computer that highlighted the Greeks’ knowledge of math, astronomy, and the mechanical tech needed to tie them together.

It took several years after the discovery for the true nature of the Antikythera Mechanism to be understood. And now something similar has happened for the Babylonians. Clay tablets, sitting in the British Museum for decades, show that this culture was able to use sophisticated geometry to track the orbit of Jupiter, relying on methods that in some ways pre-figure the development of calculus centuries later.

For the full article, check out Ars Technica