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Eleanor Robson

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Name  Eleanor Robson
Role  Author
Eleanor Robson httpswwwuclacukhistorypeopleacademicstaf
Books  Mathematics in Ancient Iraq: A So, Mesopotamian mathematics - 2100‑160, Old Babylonian Texts in t

Credoc eleanor robson

Eleanor Robson is a Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History at the Department of History, University College London, chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq and a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.


Robson is the author or co-author of several books on Mesopotamian culture and the history of mathematics. In 2003, she won the Lester R. Ford Award of the Mathematical Association of America for her work on Plimpton 322, a clay tablet of Babylonian mathematics; contrary to previous theories according to which this tablet represented a table of Pythagorean triples, Robson showed that it could have been a collection of school exercises in solving quadratic equations. She has also been widely quoted for her criticism of the U.S. Government's failure to prevent looting at the National Museum of Iraq during the Iraq War in 2003.


  • Old Babylonian coefficient lists and the wider context of mathematics in ancient Mesopotamia, 2100-1600 BC (1995), Oxford University.
  • Mesopotamian mathematics, 2100-1600 BC: technical constants in bureaucracy and education (1999), Oxford editions of cuneiform texts 14, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-815246-0. The constants of the title, expressed by the Babylonian word igigubbum, include mathematical constants such as a numerical approximation of π as well as conversion factors between different units. Reviewer Leo Depuydt writes that this book "surveys all that is known about constants in Mesopotamian mathematics and advances our insight into their function".
  • The history of mathematical tables: from Sumer to spreadsheets (2003, edited with Martin Campbell-Kelly, Mary Croarken, and Raymond G. Flood), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-850841-0, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198508410.001.0001. This edited volume presents papers relating to a 2001 conference of the British Society for the History of Mathematics on mathematical tables. As well as co-editing the volume, Robson provided a paper tracing the history of tables back to 4500 years ago in the ancient Near East.
  • The Literature of Ancient Sumer (2006, with Jeremy Black, Graham Cunningham, and Gabor Zolyomi), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-929633-0. This book contains a selection of texts of Sumerian literature, drawn from the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, an Oxford University project in which Robson is a participant. Unlike an earlier collection of Sumerian literature by Thorkild Jacobsen, the translations included in this collection are literal and in plain prose, even when they translate works of poetry.
  • Who Owns Objects?: The Ethics and Politics of Collecting Cultural Artefacts (2006, edited with Chris Gosden and Luke Treadwell), Oxbow Books, ISBN 978-1-84217-233-9. This edited volume includes nine articles, many of which take a minority position that defends the collection and expatriation of artefacts from ancient cultures and that critiques the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, which bars such collection.
  • Mathematics in ancient Iraq: a social history (2008), Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-09182-2. This book is aimed at the general public, and explains both the mathematical ideas from the three-millennium-long history of ancient Mesopotamian mathematics and the context from which they arose. It is organized chronologically; two appendices tabulate Mesopotamian systems of measurement and index nearly all known mathematical clay tablets from the region.
  • The Oxford handbook of the history of mathematics (2009, edited with Jacqueline A. Stedall), Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-921312-2. The 36 articles in this volume cover a wide range of geography and time. But although, as the title suggests, some of the contents are survey articles, many others are research papers.
  • References

    Eleanor Robson Wikipedia

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