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Multiplication Tables Exist in China 2,200 Years Ago

Xinhuanet 2002-06-26 20:51:00
   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
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