# Portal:Ancient Near East

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Babylonian mathematics refers to the mathematics developed by the ancient Mesopotamians. The earliest writing developed by the Sumerians (ca. 3500 BC) was in fact not words, but numbers — accounting records and tokens. From ca. 3000 BC they developed a complex system of metrology, a move from purely concrete accounting to abstract mathematics. From 2600 BC onwards, we find multiplication tables on clay tablets, geometrical exercises, and division problems. The sexagesimal (base-60) numeral system also comes from this period. This is the source of our modern day usage of 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 360 (60×6) degrees in a circle.

During the First Babylonian Dynasty (ca. 1700 – 1531 BC (short chronology)), Babylonian mathematicians were able to make great advances for two reasons — firstly, the number 60 is a highly composite number, facilitating calculations with fractions, and second, unlike the Egyptians and Romans, the Babylonians had a true place-value system, where digits written in the left column represented larger values (much as in our modern base-ten system). They worked with fractions, algebra, quadratic and cubic equations, the Pythagorean theorem, Pythagorean triples, and possibly trigonometric functions.

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Nebuchadrezzar II (Akkadian: Nabû-kudurri-uṣur, "Nabu, defend my firstborn son", reigned 605 – 562 BC) was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Dynasty and its greatest ruler. He was called "Nebuchadrezzar, the Great" in ancient times, but his destruction of temples in Jerusalem caused his vilification in the Bible.

He was a successful military leader before ascending the throne, defeating the Egyptians in the Battle of Carchemish. After his father Nabopolassar died and he became king, he defeated the Cimmerians and Scythians in Anatolia and continued campaigning in the Levant, including the capturing Jerusalem, destroying both city and temple and deporting a large portion of the population to Babylon. He then started a 13-year siege of Tyre, ending with Tyre's accepting Babylonian authority.

When he wasn't waging war, he continued he father's work of restoring Babylon, which had been devastated through years of Assyrian rule and more recent rebellions. He made Babylon one of the wonders of the world, with projects like the Ishtar Gate and the hanging gardens of Babylon.

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Credit: Darkred
Built by Darius I, Persepolis, 522 – 486 BC
Did you know...

...that the Hurrian language and the Urartian language are proposed to be distantly related to the modern Armenian language?

...that the Aramaic language, the lingua franca of the ancient Near East in Biblical times is still spoken as a first language today?

...that the syllabic cuneiform script was adapted to create a phonetic alphabet twice, for the Ugaritic language and for the Old Persian language?

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