MAA Writing Awards
Words and Pictures: New Light on Plimpton 322
Year of Award: 2003
Publication Information: The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 109, 2002, pp. 105-120
Summary: This paper discusses one of the world's most famous ancient mathematical artifacts, and also explores the ways in which studying ancient mathematics is different from researching modern mathematics.
About the Author: (from The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 109, (2002)) Eleanor Robson is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She fell in love with ancient Mesopotamia when in the last year of her mathematics degree at the University of Warwick in the late 1980s. She went to the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford to learn Akkadian and Sumerian, the languages of Mesopotamian mathematics-and there she has stayed. She wrote her doctorate on a small but challenging group of mathematical lists from the early second millennium BCE, published as Mesopotamian mathematics, 2100-1600 BC (Clarendon Press, 1999). She is interested in all aspects of ancient Near Eastern intellectual life, and is currently working on a book to be called Mathematics in ancient Iraq: a social history.