There is a science news article on how Babylonians used geometry to track Jupiter’s movements.

Here is an image of cuneiform tablet which shows Jupiter's movements.

(source: sciencenews.org)

From a layman's point of view, it looks like someone engraved gibberish on a tablet. How do we even know it was used to track Jupiter's movements.

Can anyone translate this? Thanks.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you need to ask in some ancient language forum or so here on stackexchange. Only when translated into numbers and language which current astronomers understand, I think that your question will get good answers. To me, obviously, astronomers have been producing mumbo jumbo since thousands of years! Fooling their lords to finance great telescopes. Concluding that everyone will die in some impactaclysme or Eclipse, and requiring more payment in order to try to find out where we all came from and must go. But with good honest intentions all along. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Feb 1, 2016 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the suggestion. However, I'm not sure if it would be a good idea to migrate this question to History SE. There is no specific SE community/site for archaeology as well. $\endgroup$
    – Dumbledore
    Feb 1, 2016 at 17:53
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is a dinner biscuit! $\endgroup$
    – user21
    Feb 1, 2016 at 23:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @barrycarter LOL...fancy some gravy with that? $\endgroup$
    – Dumbledore
    Feb 1, 2016 at 23:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This also might attract better answers if posted on the History of Science and Maths SE (hsm.stackexchange.com) $\endgroup$
    – FJC
    Apr 19, 2016 at 9:53

2 Answers 2


This news story is based on an article from Science The image is also taken from the same Science magazine article. The text here is a procedural text, it describes the process of using a trapezium to make distance-speed-time calculations, for approximation of the motion of Jupiter along the ecliptic.

You should look at the original article in science and the author's website

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks :) I need to register to view the science news article. However, the second link has an embedded YouTube video in which the tablets are explained in detail. Many thanks for sharing this. $\endgroup$
    – Dumbledore
    Mar 12, 2016 at 0:19

This link has Dr. Ossendrijver interpretation of the five clay tablets but if you are interested in a second peer review I would suggest emailing Dr. Irving Finkel at the British Museum to give his opinion on the same tablets once he is also one of the handful of global economy experts on deciphering the cuneiform language but was not listed as a reference in the research paper. This second opinion could either add credibility to Dr. Ossendrijver paper, or possibly give a counter argument or theory on what the tablets reveal. There is a lot of subjective interpretation on these five tablets since they are fragments and none show the actual trapezoid figures.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .