23 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Earliest Multiplication Formulas Discovered in a 2,300-Year-Old Chinese Tomb

Archaeologists excavating a tomb in the Qinjiazui archaeological site of Jingzhou City, Hubei Province, China, have found the earliest multiplication formulas on record.

The earliest multiplication formulas on record have been discovered on bamboo slips from the Warring States period (475BC-221BC), pushing the history of these formulas back by nearly a century, China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) announced at a press conference.

The formula, which dates back to the 4th century BC during the Warring State Period (475-221 BC), precedes another piece discovered in central Hunan Province by approximately a century, said Yang Kaiyong, a research fellow at the Jingzhou Museum. The burial – known simply as M1093 – probably dates back to the reign of either King Chu Xuan or King Chu Wei, from 369 to 329 BCE.

Bamboo slips were the most popular writing material in the period before paper became widespread. These slips, which are typically a centimeter or two wide and a few inches long, have been discovered in large numbers at the Qinjiazui site. Of all the tombs identified so far, M1093 contains the highest number of these slips.

Thousands of bamboo slips holding over 30,000 characters ranging from mathematics, literature, and animal husbandry to medicines have been discovered in the tomb.

An archaeologist sorts out bamboo slips at a tomb in the city of Jingzhou, central China’s Hubei Province. Photo: Jingzhou Museum/Handout via Xinhua

Scientists have used infrared scanning to reveal the words on the slip: “Five times seven is thirty plus five, four times seven is twenty plus eight, three times seven is twenty plus one.”

On one of the strips, researchers found multiplication formulas as well as the oldest known example of an algebraic table known as Jiujiushu.

According to the researchers: “This significant discovery offers invaluable new resources for studying the history, culture, and ideologies prevalent during the pre-Qin period.”

The Warring States period lasted from 475 to 221 BCE and ended when the Qin state overcame its six adversaries. This resulted in the unification of the Chinese empire for the first time and the establishment of the Qin dynasty.

Cover Photo: Bamboo scripts from the Warring States period (475BC-221BC) unearthed from the M1093 tomb at the Qinjiazui site in Jingzhou city, Hubei Province. Photo: China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration

Related Articles

New Evidence could Change the Date People First Arrived in North America

2 June 2021

2 June 2021

While investigating the origins of agriculture, researchers made an unexpected discovery. According to an unexpected finding made by an Iowa...

New Archaeological Discoveries in Abu Dhabi shed light on Umm an-Nar Bronze Age culture (2700-2000 BCE)

1 February 2024

1 February 2024

New findings demonstrate the resilience and inventiveness of local Bronze Age societies (Umm an-Nar Bronze Age culture), as well as...

A Previously Unknown Bronze Age Settlement Discovered in Switzerland

18 February 2024

18 February 2024

In advance of a construction project in Heimberg, the Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern carried out a rescue...

In Fraueninsel in Lake Chiemsee: Romanesque a central building hidden underground for 1,000 years discovered

25 February 2024

25 February 2024

On Fraueninsel, an island in Germany’s Lake Chiemsee, archaeologists discovered a cult site that may have been slumbering underground for...

An 8500-year-old wooden ladder remain was discovered at Çatalhöyük

12 April 2022

12 April 2022

Remains of the wooden ladder were discovered for the first time in Çatalhöyük, one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements in...

Rare Prehistoric Animal Carvings Discovered For The First Time In Scotland

31 May 2021

31 May 2021

Animal carvings thousands of years old have been found for the first time in Scotland. The carvings, estimated to be...

Salvage Excavations Started in Giresun Island on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast

18 May 2021

18 May 2021

Rescue excavations are starting again on Giresun Island, where the first examples of human settlement in the Black Sea Region...

Prehistoric Cave Art Handprints With Missing Fingertips Point to Ritual Amputation

3 January 2024

3 January 2024

Researchers who examined prehistoric cave art in France and Spain, a new interpretation of Paleolithic cave art proposes that prehistoric...

7 Gold Pendants Found Buried by Ancient Scandinavian Elites as a Sacrifice to the Gods

13 May 2021

13 May 2021

7 gold necklaces were found in a field near the Norwegian municipality of Østfold County Rade. Researchers believe that these...

Lost sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci show that he understood gravity long before Newton

19 February 2023

19 February 2023

Leonardo da Vinci’s centuries-old sketches show that he may have understood key aspects of gravity long before Galileo, Newton, and...

Unsolvable Megalithic Mystery of ancient Greek “Dragon Houses”

4 July 2022

4 July 2022

The Dragon Houses of Euboea, which probably dates to the Preclassical period of ancient Greece, are one of the historical...

A Medieval Necropolis Discovered During Excavations at the site of the Future Bus Station in Sozopol, Bulgaria

4 April 2024

4 April 2024

A medieval necropolis was discovered during excavations at the construction site of a bus station in the old seaside town...

After 1,300 years, water to again flow from monumental fountain in the City of Gladiators in Turkey

30 December 2022

30 December 2022

The approximately 2,000-year-old monumental fountain in the ancient city of Kibyra in Golhisar, Burdur in southwestern Turkey will start flowing...

Mysterious ruins discovered at the bottom of Lake Van, Türkiye’s largest lake

16 August 2023

16 August 2023

At the bottom of Lake Van, Türkiye’s largest salty soda lake with 3,712 square kilometers, divers discovered a cemetery and...