Cuneiform Tablet from RBML in Exhibition

Columbia University Plimpton 322

An illuminating exhibition of thirteen ancient babylonian tablets, along with supplemental documentary material, opens at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) on November 12, 2010. Before Pythagoras: The Culture of Old Babylonian  Mathematics reveals the highly sophisticated mathematical practice and education that flourished in Babylonia—present-day Iraq—more than 1,000 years before the time of the Greek sages Thales and Pythagoras, with whom mathematics is traditionally said to have begun.

The tablets in the exhibition, at once beautiful and enlightening, date from the Old Babylonian Period (ca. 1900–1700 BCE). They have been assembled from three important collections: the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University; the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; and the Yale babylonian Collection, Yale University.

More information about the exhibition can be found at

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