Many clever men like you have trusted to civilization . Many clever **Babylonians**, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?

—

Newton was not the first of the age of reason . He was the last of the magicians , the last of the **Babylonians** and Sumerians, the last great mind that looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10 000 years ago.

— Address to the Royal Society Club (1942), as quoted in

Let us suppose that we have set the problem of finding a solution to the equation This is a problem for which the **Babylonians** around 1700 BC found the excellent approximation ...This is the identical problem which Pythagoras asserted had no fractional solution and in whose honor he was supposed to have sacrificed a hecatomb of oxen the problem which caused the existentialist crisis in ancient Greek mathematics. The exists (as the diagonal of the unit square); yet it does not exist (as a fraction)!

— Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh,

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