Conclusion: On Errors, Rounding and Education in the Kingdom of Larsa

  • Robert Middeke-ConlinEmail author
Part of the Why the Sciences of the Ancient World Matter book series (WSAWM, volume 4)


The conclusion provides a final assessment of rounding numbers and of what the practice of rounding numbers can tell us about scribal education. The systematic use of rounding suggests that it was an important feature of record keeping, one with customs and practices associated with it, that existed to help navigate the uncertain realm of error, to simplify calculations, to mitigate possible discrepancies between expected and actual values and, perhaps, to cross between cultural and microcultural boundaries. Rounding helps to show the existence of a universal elementary scribal education as well as advanced educations that probably took place in professional environments. Moreover, rounding helps to show what these educations consisted of. Rounding exploited the makeup and organization of metrological lists and tables as well as numerical tables. Rounding helps to illustrate the importance of commentary in the advanced education of scribes. It helps to highlight algorithms used to construct value, as well as tools used to construct texts. In short, rounding numbers can be used as a tool to help us, the modern readers, understand numeracy in the ancient world.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Berlin Center for the History of KnowledgeMax Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

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