Pythagorean Triples Were Known 1,000 Years Before Pythagoras

The Babylonian clay tablet from the collection of Columbia University dating from 1,000 years before Pythagoras’s theorem is a trigonometric table which has 15 pairs of numbers forming Pythagorean triples: three whole numbers a, b and c:

a2 + b2 = c2

The tabet is known as the world’s oldest trig table. Babylonians used the base-60 numbers, which permitted many more accurate fractions than the contemporary base 10. For example, 2/3 = 0.6666… (or 40 minutes) was a finite number. The base-60 system were inspired from such shapes as a circle and the regular hexagon (see an example).