Antecedents? Mathematics in the Indus Valley

  • P. P. Divakaran
Part of the Sources and Studies in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences book series (SHMP)


It will be very unreasonable to suppose that the body of mathematical knowledge reflected in the Śulbasūtra arose fully formed in the minds of Baudhayana and his fellow-codifiers of ritual doctrine some time in the 8th or 9th century BCE. Rather, as in the appearance of the Brahmi script in a finished form in the 3rd century BCE, the codification was probably preceded by a long period of maturation of ideas and methods, following perhaps a decisive initial conceptual advance (or advances). As far as the mathematics of enumeration (and basic operations with numbers) is concerned, there is very strong evidence (Chapter 5) that decimal numbers had acquired their definitive nominal form – the one which is still current – by the time the R.gveda was compiled; the decisive advance must have taken place well before then. In regard to geometry, there is no comparable early source from which we can extract, even if painfully, any kind of precise information about what the early Vedic people knew, and when. There are sporadic mentions of some ritual structures in the two recensions of the Yajurveda but no useful geometrical insight can be gleaned from them.


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© Hindustan Book Agency 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. P. Divakaran
    • 1
  1. 1.KochiIndia

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