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History of Mathematics
Money and Measurement - Babylonian Mathematics



Money and Measurement - Babylonian Mathematics
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.23

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    astrologers, sextant, unbroken, unnamed, angular, cuneiform, multiplication, geometry, following, pointed, stark, mathematics, cumbersome, astronomical, astronomy, inefficient
     content words:    Two Rivers, Nile River, Euphrates Rivers, Euphrates River, Near Eastern, Roman Empire


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Money and Measurement - Babylonian Mathematics
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Mesopotamia, which means "The Land between the Two Rivers," was located one thousand miles east of the delta of the Nile River in between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The Babylonian civilization flourished at about the same time as the Egyptian civilization. The Babylonians lived in a large desert, and they had a legal system, a postal system, and irrigation systems. The environmental differences between Mesopotamia and Egypt led the Babylonians to develop different areas in mathematics.
 
2     Mesopotamia engaged in a great deal of foreign trade because they had no wood or metal in their environment. They were constantly traveling in caravans of donkeys or camels, or on ships. Merchants traveled far to obtain goods. They went west to Lebanon for wood, north into Asia for precious metals, and east into India for silks and spices. These merchants needed a precise way of measuring things because these goods were rare and expensive.
 
3     The merchants developed scales and standard weights to replace the previous system of measuring things by donkey load. Heavy items were weighed in talents, and a talent was approximately 35 pounds. Precious things, like spices, were weighed in shekels, and a shekel was a little less than one third of an ounce. All of this trade and commerce also led to the development of money for the first time.

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