Many years ago a lecturer of mine had a photocopy of a page from a book containing a math problem ( I think it was a simple quadradic equation ) that was stated/solved in Cuneiform, Arabic, Latin scripts and Finally in modern math notation.

I have contacted my lecturer but he has no idea where it was from, nor I have been able to find it using google books searches etc.

Does anyone know where to find it?

Thank you in advance

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This isn't the book you are looking for, but I know Unknown Quantity by John Derbyshire presents algebraic problems in cuneiform and greek presentations. $\endgroup$
    – Justin L.
    Nov 25, 2010 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ I'm far away from my copy of Cajori, but I suspect that's where your lecturer pulled it from. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2010 at 3:24
  • $\begingroup$ In the meantime, here is something to distract you with. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2010 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ In my copy of "The Greatness That Was Babylon" by H.W.F. Saggs there is a picture of a cuneiform tablet with some math problems on it. (This is not the book you are looking for, but I just had to seize the opportunity to mention this book which I greatly enjoyed reading.) $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2010 at 6:17
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YBC_7289#History is a cuneiform tablet with the value of $\sqrt 2$. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2011 at 11:02

2 Answers 2


It looks like it could be this book : A History Of Mathematical Notations Vol I (1928) Florian Cajori http://www.archive.org/details/historyofmathema031756mbp

It would probably interest you even if it's not the exact same one.

  • $\begingroup$ Hello, +1 for the ref, I have downloaded the pdf and going through each page to find it as I find time, If I can find the whole thing or the fragments and can make the same thing myself I still will be damn happy! Just need the same equation stated from the Ancient times to modern ( Latex !). $\endgroup$
    – jimjim
    Apr 7, 2011 at 22:21

Click on Historical overview in the section Solving polynomials at the webpage: http://www.math.harvard.edu/~ctm/gallery/index.html

This is not quite what you where asking for, as it is the solution to the quadratic, cubic, quartic, quinitic,... But I think you will still like it!


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