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From Starting Line to Ancient Angle

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Author:Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)
Description: The ruins of ancient Corinth include a stadium that featured several courses for foot races. In 1980, archaeologists found and excavated the curved starting line for one such racecourse, dating from about 500 B.C. Curved to allow a staggered start, the starting line was constructed of limestone blocks embedded in the ground and covered with a thin plaster coat. Its excavated length, along the arc of a circle, was about 12 meters, and its width varied between 1.25 and 1.30 m. Sets of front and rear toe grooves cut into the blocks marked the 12 starting positions for the runners... Determining the radius and center of the circle defining the starting line presents an interesting problem in geometry, suggests how race tracks were laid out in ancient Greece, and provides insights into the units of length and angle used by the Greeks.

Levels: Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Articles
Math Topics: Terms/Units of Measure, Conic Sections and Circles, Engineering

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