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Mathematics in Ancient Iraq:
A Social History
Eleanor Robson

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"Nothing comparable has been done before, and it has been a great pleasure to read the book, from which I have learned much."--Jens Høyrup, Mathematical Intelligencer

"Eleanor Robson's book Mathematics in Ancient Iraq is presently unique and will surely become a classic in the history of early mathematics. Despite the meticulous and detailed presentation of a representative selection of available sources, the book is very readable and captures the attention of the interested reader from the first to the last page. I recommend it to anyone who would like to learn something about the fascinating story of the development of mathematical activities in Mesopotamia."--Peter Damerow, Notices of the AMS

"[Mathematics in Ancient Iraq] is argued passionately, persuasively and, I am pleased to add, enjoyably."--Bob Berghout, Australian Mathematical Society Gazette

"Mathematics in Ancient Iraq fills a gap that has existed for a very long time."--Annette Imhausen, British Society for the History of Maths

"Robson displays a confidence, familiarity, and breadth of scholarship that is impressive and inspiring. She epitomizes a new wave of research in the history of mathematics. She provides context, setting, and interpretative themes for generations of scholars to come, whether they will embrace them or resist them. Indeed, Robson's work is more than just a social history--it is emblematic of a new approach to this discipline. The details will excite specialists, the generalities will delight the uninitiated. 'Sparkling' indeed, this work is guaranteed to be an influential and foundational reference book, indispensable to the collections of the many disciplines it draws from."--Clemency Montelle, Journal of the American Oriental Society

"Robson, as a professional assyriologist, is preeminently well positioned to write a history that situates Mesopotamian mathematics in its ancient social and intellectual context; and whether or not one always agrees with her interpretations of the mathematics, her competence in these aspects is nowhere in doubt."--Alexander Jones, British Journal for the History of Science

"[T]he book is a very significant contribution to the history of mathematics. It is well written, solidly founded and argued, and easy to understand. It is a fine and important addition to the literature on Babylonian mathematics, and it will be very useful to readers from both inside and outside the field. The book is warmly recommended to everyone who is interested in mathematics and its history, in ancient cultures, or in science seen as an integrated part of culture, and to the broader public of historians of early science or Mesopotamian culture."--Lis Brack-Bernsen, Journal of World History

"The book contains numerous charts, tables, images and databases that help us understand the issues addressed. It is excellently documented and it contains a comprehensive and up to date bibliography. Eleanor Robson is a scholar who commands the field that she investigates."--Piedad Yuste, Metascience

"[T]he publication of a book of this kind is very welcome. Nothing like it has been published before, and it is going to be immensely helpful to both writers and readers of future articles and books about the subject."--Joran Friberg, Archive Fur Orientforschung


"This work is an enormously significant contribution to the history of mathematics. No other work surveys the vast landscape of Mesopotamian mathematics from a position of the modern understanding of the past, incorporating the latest scholarship and yet still managing to be so accessible to nonspecialists. Robson's book is an outstanding guide that can be consulted by anyone interested in the field."--Duncan J. Melville, St. Lawrence University

"A very significant contribution to the history of ancient mathematics, and to the history of mathematics in general. I anticipate this book will be very, very useful to readers outside the field and general readers, because it is very clearly and incisively written, it gives clear indications about where to find the primary sources, and it summarizes previous historiography very effectively. There is no comparable book."--Serafina Cuomo, Birkbeck College, London

"A truly exciting and highly readable intellectual history of ancient Iraq. Eleanor Robson's Mathematics in Ancient Iraq is destined to become a classic. The book will have a wide readership among people interested in Near Eastern archaeology, the origins of writing, the history of education, and the history of science. This is truly a magnificent read."--Gary Urton, Harvard University

"This is a wholly original work, the first to integrate all the recent work from the history of mathematics in this area with archaeological scholarship. The result is a remarkably rich portrayal of mathematics in ancient Iraq. The breadth of coverage is striking, both in chronological terms but also in broad intellectual ones. The book is very well written and handsomely illustrated."--Jeremy Gray, The Open University

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File created: 11/22/2015

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