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2300 Year Old Calculator Found In China

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posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 02:03 PM
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I found this article in Pravda written by Igor Bukker....seems that they found the oldest known calculator that utilized bamboo sticks to make complex calculations for taxes, land area calculating and much more.

Link to original article:

english.pravda.ru...

or complete article below:

Ancient Chinese used bamboo sticks as calculator.

Approximately 2,300 years ago the ancient Chinese wrote the world's oldest decimal multiplication table on bamboo sticks. According to experts, it was a very effective calculator that let one do the calculations not only with integers but also fractions. No country in the world had similar calculators at that time.

Five years ago, Beijing Tsinghua University received a gift of nearly two and a half thousand dirty and moldy bamboo sticks. Most likely, they were found by raiders of ancient tombs and then sold at a market in Hong Kong. According to radiocarbon analysis, this artifact was created in about 305 BC, which corresponds to China's Warring States period.

Despite the military conflicts, this historical period (481, 475 or 453-221 BC) is characterized by flourishing trade and commerce, spread of iron tools, construction of large irrigation projects, development of agriculture, and population growth. At that time groups of educated citizens professionally engaged in intellectual work have emerged. The Warring States period is often identified with the "golden age" of Chinese philosophy. This period immediately preceded the formation of the Qin Empire.

According to the information on Nature portal, each strip is 12.7 mm wide and up to half a meter long. From top to bottom they are covered with ancient writing. According to Chinese historians, this important artifact has 65 ancient texts written in black ink. Due to the fact that the threads connecting pages into a single manuscript scroll have decayed, and some bamboo sticks have disappeared and others have been broken, the transcript of texts turned into a real puzzle for the researchers.

Scientists noticed a "canvas" consisting of 21 bamboo strips inscribed only with numbers. As suggested by Chinese mathematicians, it was the oldest known multiplication tables in the world. When the strips are placed properly, one will notice that the top line and the rightmost column contain the same 19 numbers arranged from right to left and top to bottom, respectively: 0.5, integers from one to nine, and the numbers dividable by 10, from 10 to 90.

Like in modern decimal multiplication table, the numbers at the intersection of each row and column are the results of multiplication of relevant numbers. The table can also be used to multiply any integer or integer and a half from 0.5 to 99.5. According to a working version, the numbers not represented in the table first have to be broken down into components. For example, 22.5 × 35.5 can be transformed as follows: (20 + 2 + 0.5) x ( 30 + 5 + 0.5 ). To solve this problem one should perform nine multiplications 20 × 30, 20 × 5 20 × 0.5, 2 × 30 and so on. The end result will be the sum of these results. This is quite an effective ancient calculator.

Science historians note the antiquity of Chinese mathematical practice, but are quite careful in the description of the mathematical theory of the ancient Chinese. Among the earliest known Chinese mathematical treatises there are "The Arithmetical Classic of the Gnomon" (Zhou Bi Suan Jing) and "Mathematical treatise in nine sections " (Chiu Chang Suan Shu) that date back to 5-2 and 3-1 centuries BC, respectively. Some scientists mention possible contacts of Chinese mathematicians with Indian ones, but it happened much later, in 5-7 century.

Likely the discovered multiplication table was used by Chinese officials to calculate the area of land, counting crop yields or taxes. This calculator can also be used for division and extracting square roots. However, modern scientists are not sure whether such complex operations were performed in that era. In any event, according to the historian of mathematics at New York University Joseph Dauben, this is the earliest artifact of a decimal multiplication table in the world.

The American scientist is confident that the ancient Chinese used complex arithmetic in theoretical and commercial purposes in the era of the Warring States. This happened before the first emperor Ying Zheng who unified the entire China and took the title of Qin Shi Huang (first Huang of the Qin Dynasty). Later, he ordered to burn many books and banned private libraries in an attempt to reverse the country's intellectual tradition.

Until now, a text dating back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 years BC) was considered the oldest Chinese multiplication table. It is a series of short sentences, for example, "six eight forty eight." It contained only the simplest multiplications. Multiplication tables of ancient Babylon are much older. They are approximately 4,000 years old, but a set of tables used for multiplication was bulky, with separate tables for multiplication by 1-20, 30 ... 50

No calculations were possible without a large library of tables in Babylon. Furthermore, they did not have a decimal multiplication table. In Europe the first multiplication tables appeared only during the Renaissance era.




posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 02:13 PM
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Amazing stuff.



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 02:56 PM
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Very good read, anyone have any images of these ancient relics?



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 03:05 PM
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Here is an image I think.

naijahforreal.blogspot.co.uk...



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 03:05 PM
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scottie79
Very good read, anyone have any images of these ancient relics?






just kidding of course....

I have been looking for a good picture of it but can't find one. There is a small picture on the original article but it won't let me post it for some reason....
edit on 1-2-2014 by UxoriousMagnus because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 03:07 PM
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EnigmaAgent
Here is an image I think.

naijahforreal.blogspot.co.uk...


Excellent....thanks Enigma!!



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 04:14 PM
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reply to post by UxoriousMagnus
 


Older than the Antikythera mechanism?



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 04:27 PM
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PhoenixOD
reply to post by UxoriousMagnus
 


Older than the Antikythera mechanism?


Roughly the same age, since it's really difficult to actually know exactly.

I think they are dating the tables in the OP about 150-250yrs older than the Antikythera.

Anyhow, thanks OP for the read, it's funny because I was actually reading about this exact period the last few days but wasn't aware of this particular find. Nice catch.

edit on 1-2-2014 by muzzleflash because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 04:32 PM
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reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


Here's one for you


Minoan-era 'computer'

Preceded the heralded "Antikythera Mechanism" by 1,400 years, and was the first analog and "portable computer" in history.



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 04:38 PM
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SLAYER69
reply to post by PhoenixOD
 


Here's one for you


Minoan-era 'computer'

Preceded the heralded "Antikythera Mechanism" by 1,400 years, and was the first analog and "portable computer" in history.


Slayer...
Did the Minoan computer calculate decimal places? Just curious as that seems to be one of the big deals with the one in the article.

It would be amazing to know all of the history and literature etc that was lost when the Emperor ordered all intellectual things destroyed. The human race has lost so much info over the last 3 to 4 thousand years.

Anyway....thanks for the info because I didn't see your other post...



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 05:09 PM
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reply to post by UxoriousMagnus
 

Thanks, I learned something. I didn't know that a multiplication table could be referred to as a "calculator".

I thought a calculator was a device like the abacus, or slide rule or our electronic versions of those devices, but didn't know the alternate definition of this word "calculator" could mean just "multiplication table".

So I would have had a better understanding if the headline said a 2300 year old multiplication table was found, and even though they used the alternate definition correctly, I think it's more descriptive to call a multiplication table just that, instead of a calculator, because I think I'm not the only one who conjures up images of something other than multiplication tables upon hearing the word "calculator".



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 05:41 PM
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Arbitrageur
reply to post by UxoriousMagnus
 

Thanks, I learned something. I didn't know that a multiplication table could be referred to as a "calculator".

I thought a calculator was a device like the abacus, or slide rule or our electronic versions of those devices, but didn't know the alternate definition of this word "calculator" could mean just "multiplication table".

So I would have had a better understanding if the headline said a 2300 year old multiplication table was found, and even though they used the alternate definition correctly, I think it's more descriptive to call a multiplication table just that, instead of a calculator, because I think I'm not the only one who conjures up images of something other than multiplication tables upon hearing the word "calculator".


Arbitrageur,
I think it is a slide rule type. You slide the sticks up and down and the top row/far right gives you the answer. It even calculates decimals or "fractions" which is pretty incredible really.



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 05:45 PM
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reply to post by UxoriousMagnus
 

Except for this part, quoted in your OP:

Like in modern decimal multiplication table, the numbers at the intersection of each row and column are the results of multiplication of relevant numbers.
That is the description of a table, not a slide rule. A slipstick does not have rows and columns of numbers. It has two ruled scales and it's function is based on logarithms.

www.vaughns-1-pagers.com...
vs.
upload.wikimedia.org...


edit on 2/1/2014 by Phage because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 06:50 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


Hey thanks for your post, you got me to wiki Slide Rule because I wanted to know more about this device and just any random information about it.

It's extensive and extremely informative, I can totally use this info in so many ways with what I am currently working on.
Excellent timing, you rock man.

edit on 1-2-2014 by muzzleflash because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 06:59 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


To return the favor I will share this link with you:
Hero of Alexandria

It's worth reading in depth, and if you don't already know about much of it, it should be pretty mind blowing stuff.

Although he is credited with a vast assortment of inventions, I think it's likely he was more of an innovator of what was available during the period.




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