PI Day Countdown #1 – PI and the Babylonians

The Babylonians are one of the earliest recorded cultures in history. Babylonian scribes took records by writing on clay tablets using a reed stylus.

One of these tablets was found with three numbers, 3, 9 and 45 written on top a circle. It turns out that the circle is suppose to have an area of 45/60 while the circumference is 3 because of the old Babylonian rule for calculating the area of the circle:

Area = Circumference ^ 2 \times (5/60)

With these values, it can actually be shown that the Babylonians at the time believed that the value of \pi is exactly equal to 3. This is done by using today’s formula for the area of the circle \pi r^2 and circumference 2 \pi r. The area of the circle can only be 45/60 while the circumference is 3 if we take \pi = 3.

However a different clay tablet indicates that the value of \pi is 3.125 which is about 0.53% off of the true value of \pi. A better approximation of Pi.

PS: For more Pi Day countdown articles, visit the fun corner

Sources Used