CHANGSHA, June 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese archaeologists have
unearthed proof that the times tables were being drummed into the
heads of pupils more than 2,000 years ago.
A set of multiplication tables engraved on a wooden tablet have
been found at a historical site dating from the Warring States
period (BC.475-BC.221), it was announced Wednesday.
The 2,200-year-old tables were inscribed on a 22 cm-long and 4.
5 cm-wide tablet, which was unearthed at Liyegu village of
Longshan county in south China's Hunan province.
Experts have confirmed that the formulas are the earliest
record in China of the multiplication formulas.
Archaeologists so far can only figure out the equations
concerning number "eight" from the six lines.
The two-sided tablet has been soaked in a special liquid to
make blurred characters reveal themselves and yield more clues.
Yuan Jiarong, director of the local Institute of Archaeology,
said that it seemed the tablet contained only some of the
equations. Remaining information may be engraved on other tablets.
Gao Chongwen, of the archaeological institute of Beijing
University, said that the new discovery could prove that
multiplication formulas were invented and widely used in China as
early as the Spring and Autumn period (BC.770-BC.476) and the
Warring States period.
Liu Dun, director of the Institute of History of Natural
Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that similar
multiplication formulas had also been discovered in ancient
Babylon's mud-plate books. But the formulas, when read in Chinese,
should be more rhythmical thanks to the language's monosyllabic
In addition, China's exclusive abacus calculation formula which
followed the multiplication formula was also in rhythm.
Liu believed that the rhythmical formulas of both
multiplication and abacus calculation may have helped Chinese
people enhance calculation speed and improve their method. Enditem