At Australia’s University of New South Wales, a team of academics pore over a slab of ancient clay. Slowly, they come to a stunning realization about the rows and columns etched across the tablet’s surface. Indeed, it’s a revelation that will change everything we think we know about mathematics.
The story begins back in the early 1900s, when American archaeologist Edgar Banks was exploring an area that today is part of southern Iraq. As a lover of antiquities, Banks spent much of his career buying up ancient artifacts during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.
In fact, Banks was so fascinated by treasures from the past that some have speculated he may have been the inspiration for George Lucas’ fictional archaeologist, Indiana Jones. And at the beginning of the 20th century, he made the discovery that would make him famous.