The “Finer Structure” of the Old Babylonian Corpus

  • Jens Høyrup
Part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SHMP)


In the preceding chapters, occasional references were made to specific text groups, but apart from this the Old Babylonian mathematical corpus was treated as an undifferentiated whole.


Core Area Relative Clause Procedure Text Interrogative Phrase Series Text 
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  1. 355.
    Strictly speaking, already Neugebauer had tried to define two groups of texts that he felt belonged together — [MKT II, 50], cf. [Heyrup 2000a: 119].Google Scholar
  2. 356.
    Vocabulary, not terminology: he did not distinguish cases where the verb nadânum,“to give”, refers to the giving of a result from others where it refers to the payment of interest on a loan.Google Scholar
  3. 358.
    After the discovery of the Eshnunna texts (cf. presently), this belief in the priority of the South has to be given up. It should also be observed that the first law-code in Akkadian was produced in Eshnunna as early as the 19th century.Google Scholar
  4. 359.
    The excavator was too sloppy to care for stratigraphy of tablets and mud brick structures! Cf. [Robson 1999: 19] and [MCT, 6 n. 28].Google Scholar
  5. 360.
    Hoyrup 2000a1 is a detailed investigation of the issue; the remains of the present chapter summarizes the results and draws some further conclusions.Google Scholar
  6. 361.
    IM 53953, IM 53957, IM 53961, IM 53965, IM 54010, IM 54011, IM 54464, IM 54478, and IM 54538 were found together. The last tablet from the group is IM 54559.Google Scholar
  7. 363.
    Only IM 54559 (the text not found in the same room as the rest) uses both to-mar and i-li-a-ku-um; IM 54464 makes a “raising”-multiplication (nasûm) “give you” (i-na-di-na-ku-um) the result), but then repeats the calculation making the result “come up” (i-li),as if a slip had occurred when the scribe submitted an original to stylistic normalization (or tried to conform to a style which was not fully his, if his composition is original); as we have seen, constructions with nadânumisum,“to give”, are used regularly in questions about division by irregular numbers, and we may suppose that they had a traditional connection with sexagesimal multiplication.Google Scholar
  8. 364.
    Even this is thus probably the result of a slip, a deviation from a style deliberately striven for, cf. note 363.Google Scholar
  9. 365.
    On the other hand, the si-du-um of IM 54538 (obv. 2) and IM 54011 (obv. 2), respectively a carrying distance and the length of a wall to be built, are not exceptional but correspond to a pattern found elsewhere. Even the dimensions of a field measured by a breaking reed may of course have been seen as ‘Yea;“ and not belonging to the standard representation.Google Scholar
  10. 428.
    It cannot be wholly excluded, however, that the authors of the Ur texts avoided an existing term with purpose, judging that two different ways to mark results (pàd and.àm) was ample. But even in this case, only a fresh innovation is likely to have been refused.Google Scholar
  11. 429.
    The only Old Babylonian text which has a Sumerographic writing of “coming up” is the Nippur text CBM 12648, which appears to construct Sumerograms for everything, and which has íb.si8 x e,,.dè, “make the equalside of x come up”.Google Scholar
  12. 430.
    Whether pre-Sulgi scribal culture or non-scribal Sumerian surveying cannot be decided, not least because it is not clear whether the lú.és.gíd, “rope-spanner” (that is, “surveyor”) referred to in Sargonic contracts is a scribe or not (since a “scribe” is also mentioned, he is probably not). See [Krecher 1973: 173–176].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Høyrup
    • 1
  1. 1.Section for Philosophy ans Sciences StudiesUniversity of RoskildeRoskildeDenmark

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