Babylonian Math Problem for you to work out yourself
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Babylonian Math Problem

Triangles math problem

This is a real math problem assigned to Babylonian kids (in modern Iraq) about 1900 BC.

Here's the problem:

Suppose you have two equilateral triangles, one inside the other. Can you figure out the area of the space between the two triangles? Here's a hint: see how you can divide the area into three trapezoids?

Triangle problem
A better drawing of the problem

You'll need to know how to find the area of a trapezoid. (Scroll down for a better drawing of the problem)

Learn by doing: an abacus
More about Babylonian math

Bibliography and further reading about West Asian science:

Science in Ancient Mesopotamia, by Carol Moss (1999). Easy reading. On the short side.

West Asian Mathematics
West Asian Numbers
More West Asian Scienceage
Ancient West Asia
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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