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Éléments d'histoire de la Mésopotamie ancienne à travers les nombres, les mesures et les calculs

26 jun 2017 09:00 - 18:00
Institut d'études avancées de Paris
Hôtel de Lauzun
17 quai d'Anjou
75004 Paris

Workshop organized by Carlos Gonçalves (Paris IAS fellow) and Christine Proust (SPHERE - UMR 7219 - CNRS, Université Paris Diderot)


One important research trend on the history of cuneiform mathematics in the recent years has been the attention to the multidimensional relationship between the mathematics of administrative and legal texts and the mathematics of school texts. New studies, carried out by researchers from various countries and coming from several different specialisations, have dealt with the issue, analysing for instance the nature of the number systems used in the administrative and the school milieus, the systems of measurement, the methods of computation, and the training of those that occupied administrative positions. As a result, our understanding of cuneiform mathematics has become richer and, above all, more integrated into the image we have of Mesopotamian societies at large.

The present workshop considers that the results of these previous investigations are important achievements for the discipline of history of cuneiform mathematics. For this reason, it gathers together researchers that have been dealing with these issues and invites them to explore new paths, with an encouragement to deal with the following research questions, unfolding into the historic and the historiographical dimensions.

Historical questions:

  • the ways in which specific social groups, communities and people from ancient Mesopotamia could perceive, even if indirectly, the influence of numbers, measurements and calculations in their lives;
  • how different modalities of the use of numbers, measurements and calculations could correlate to the specialisation of labour found in Mesopotamian cities and institutions.

Historiographical questions:

  • how numbers, measures and calculations, as found in ancient documents, provide historians with information about the ways Mesopotamian societies were organised;
  • finally how research made from this point of view innovated in terms of methodological approaches.

Presentations are not expected to cover all the issues just delineated. Nor is it obligatory to deal with the whole of Mesopotamian history; on the contrary, case-studies circumscribed to a specific period, place or social group will be welcome.


9h30 - 10h00   Opening
Gretty Mirdal (Paris IAS director)
Christine Proust (SPHERE - UMR 7219 - CNRS, Université Paris Diderot) et Carlos Gonçalves (IEA de Paris / Universidade de São Paulo)

10h00 - 11h00   Mesure de la terre et cadastres au 3e millénaire en Mésopotamie : l’arpenteur et sa méthode durant l’époque présargonique
Camille Lecompte (ArScAn-VEPMO (CNRS, Université Paris Nanterre))

11h00 - 12h00   Les mesures de capacité, un système marginal chez les marchands assyriens
Cécile Michel (ArScAn-HAROC (CNRS, Université Paris Nanterre))

12h00 - 13h00   Erudition et sens des affaires à Uruk à l’époque perse
Christine Proust (SPHERE (CNRS, Université Paris Diderot))

13h00 - 14h00   Lunch Break

14h00 - 15h00   Personal Associations and the Shaping of a Collective in the Archive of Nūr-Šamaš - why measuring matters
Carlos Gonçalves (IEA de Paris / Universidade de São Paulo)

15h00 - 16h00   L’enseignement des mathématiques au ‘Chantier K’ de Mari et la transmission des savoirs à l’époque paléo-babylonienne
Grégoire Nicolet (ArScAn-VEPMO (CNRS, Université Paris Nanterre))

16h00 - 17h00   The Limits of Numeracy in Ancient Mesopotamia
Robert Midekke-Conlin (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)

17h00 - 17h30   General discussion


Date dépassée
Mathematics in Administrative and Economic Practices in Ancient Mesopotamia
01 October 2016 - 30 June 2017
26 Jun 2017 18:00
Carlos Gonçalves
Conferences and workshops
Antiquity (3500 BCE – 476 CE)
North Africa, Middle East