Workshop Mathematical practices in various sectors of Mesopotamian society – 2015

Math & Realia
Workshop on
mathematical practices in various sectors of Mesopotamian society

Organised by Cécile Michel and Christine Proust with the support of the SAW Project

in the context of the 61st Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale

June 26, 2015 –  9 am to 5 pm – Bern, Switzerland

The workshop is dedicated to the memory of Aizik Abramovich Vaiman (1922-2013)


The workshop “Math & Realia” aims to present researches developed in connection to the SAW project. Case studies that show how mathematical knowledge was produced, transmitted or used in specific sectors of activity, such as administration, trade, or education, will be developed. More precisely, in the line of the RAI 61, the workshop will focus on the relationship between the texts and their physical environment or mental representations. The topics addressed include the following:
♦ Fields and lands: different ways to quantify surfaces, mental representations, arrangement of surface units, diagrams.
♦ Canals, bricks and walls: different ways of quantifying spatial extensions, quantifying labor and organizing work.
♦ Measures and standards: relationships between units of capacity and standard vessels, units of weight and standard stone weights, textual traces and archaeological traces.
♦ Trade and exchanges: the mathematical tools to “make equivalent” different kinds of goods, market rates, theoretical rates and bureaucratic rates, regular and non-regular numbers, approximations.
♦ The walls of schools: textual data and archaeological data.
♦ Cuneiform signs as images: notations of integers, fractions, and measurement units; arithmograms, metrograms and arithmo-metrograms.

List of Speakers  – Programme with abstracts – pdf

Hagan Brunke (Freie Universität, Gremany)
Equivalencies: the neo-Sumerian administrative evidence
Pierre Chaigneau (SPHERE, CNRS & Université Paris Diderot, SAW Project, France)
A procedure text on volume calculations: BM 85196
Laurent Colonna d’Istria (Université de Liège, Belgium)
The fractions 1/3 and 2/3 in the Šakkanakku period and their genesis
Carlos Gonçalves (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil)
he Size of the Things – Metrological Practices in the Old Babylonian Diyala
Camille Lecompte (CNRS, France)
Procedures for estimating the fields’ and gardens’ surfaces in Pre-Sargonic documentation from Girsu
Cécile Michel (SPHERE, CNRS & Université Paris Diderot, SAW Project, France)
Weighing Units, Standards and Weight Artefacts during the Old Assyrian Period
Natalie May (Independent researcher)
Text and Architecture: YBC 5022 and BM 15285 as “Manuals of an Architect”
Robert Middeke-Conlin (SPHERE, CNRS & Université Paris Diderot, SAW Project, France)
Estimating volume: Methods for assessing volume exhibited and suggested in two Old Babylonian tabular administrative texts
Grégoire Nicolet (Université de Genève, Switzerland)
A mathematical class at ‘Chantier K’ in Mari
Christine Proust (SPHERE, CNRS & Université Paris Diderot, SAW Project, France)
Making equivalent volume, brickage and capacity in Old Babylonian mathematical texts
Stephanie Rost (Stony Brook University, USA)
The administration of irrigation systems in the Umma province of the Ur III state (2112-2004 B.C.)

Programme of the conference – RAI61 site