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Topic: Scribal division reported within a volume unit
Replies: 13   Last Post: Mar 2, 2011 12:21 PM

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Milo Gardner

Posts: 1,105
Registered: 12/3/04
Scribal division reported within a volume unit
Posted: Oct 3, 2009 9:15 AM
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Scribal division during the Middle Kingdom has been a topic of controversy for 80 yesrs. Single false position, a medieval root-finding method, was proposed in the 1920's as representative of scribal arithmetic thinking.

In 2006 a paper on the Akhmim Wooden Tablet (AWT) was published in India that showed that scribal division followed another intellectual structure. The updated arithmetic operation looked and acted more like our modern definition of division, and looked nothing like the single false position method.

The 1900 BCE AWT context was the division of a volume unit named a hekat, written as a hekat unity (64/64) such that (64/64)/n created a binary quotient and a (5/5) scaled remainder written as a 1/320th of a hekat.

A Planetmath entry offers additional details on the topic per:

Best Regards,

Milo Gardner

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