Donald Allen, a mathematics professor at Texas A&M University, is also skeptical that the researchers have proven Plimpton 322 was used for trigonometry.
Plimpton 322, as the the small tablet is known, was discovered in the early 1900s by the historic fugure on whom the character Indiana Jones was based.
That's the conclusion of a new paper, Plimpton 322 is Babylonian exact sexagesimal trigonometry, in the new issue of the journal Historia Mathematica.
After conducting a historiographical analysis of the tablet's purported goal, Mansfield and Wildberger took a closer look at the tablet and its inscriptions.
Until now. The tablet, it has been discovered, proffers the world's oldest trigonometric table, describing the shape of right-angle triangles based on ratios, as opposed to angles and circles, which is the conventional method.
The UNSW Sydney, whose scientists discovered the objective of the tablet, said the left-hand edge of the tablet is broken and the researchers build on previous research to present new mathematical evidence that there were originally six columns and that the tablet was meant to be completed with 38 rows.
Allen noted the most important finding from the tablet is the evidence of Pythagorean triples, indicating that Babylonians were seemingly aware of the Pythagorean theorem-years before Pythagoras. Whilst, Dr Mansfield relays with more than a hint of dismay, "Babylonian mathematics may have been out of fashion for more than 3000 years", the trigonometric table in question could have applications in modern industries like surveying, education, and computer graphics.
Further, the 15 rows on the tablet were deciphered as a sequence of 15 right-angle triangles, which are steadily decreasing in inclination. The study authors expanded on prior research suggesting that Plimpton 322 was broken and incomplete, and they determined that there were originally six columns of figures on the tablet. In the study, the authors used the ancient base 60 system to demonstrate how scribes would have arrived at the numbers that were chiseled on Plimpton 322. Hipparchus, a Greek mathematician and astronomer whose work dates to between 160 and 120 BC, is credited as the father of trigonometry, but a almost 4,000-year-old stone tablet may be about to totally rewrite the history books.
Dr Mansfield explains that the lines shown in the tablet represent "the ratios for a series of right-angled triangles". According to the UNSW researchers the tablet uses a base number of 60, which may have been used to allow ancient Babylonians to derive integers instead of fractions.
Wildberger added: "With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own".
"This is a rare example of the ancient world teaching us something new".