Monthly maths problem from RTSdécouverte - Babylonian math problem

Friday, 4 October, 2019

We invite you to solve the English version of the  RTSdécouverte monthly problem: Babylonian math problem

Here is a math problem to be solved by Babylonian scribe apprentices (ca. 1900 - 1600 BC):






[The sketch below represents a rectangular trapezoid.] Find the length of the segment parallel to the sides, which divides the trapezoid into two bands of equal area.

The markings shown are lengths of the two sides and the area of the bands (from which we see that the bands must have equal area).

Remember that the Babylonians counted in base 60 and that the order of magnitude was implicit (in other words, the symbol 1 can mean 1, 60, 3'600 or 1/60 depending on the context). A nail is worth 1 and a chevron is worth 10.


Original RTS Problèmes du mois (FR)