Secrets of the Bakshaali Manuscript

Scientists from Oxford University using the method of radiocarbon dating established the age of the Bakshaali manuscript stored in the Bodleian library.

It is believed that on this famous Indian manuscript the author used the symbol of zero. Scientists have found out that the manuscript is 500 years older than it is commonly believed. According to the researchers, the document was created in the III – IV centuries.

The study was approved by the leadership of the Bodleian Library, in which the manuscript was kept since 1902. The text contains hundreds of characters in the form of bold dots, interpreted as zero. This symbol was used in the same quality, in which zero is used now to indicate the order of increasing numbers, for example 10, 100, 1000.

Previously, it was believed that the number zero was first used in the inscription on the wall of the IX c. Gwalior in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The Bakshaali manuscript was found in 1881 in a field where the village of Bakshali (the territory of modern Pakistan) later appeared. Scientists have long considered the document as the oldest Indian mathematical text. However, the exact age of the manuscript has been controversial to this day. Some experts believed that it was created in the period from VIII to XII centuries. The document consists of 70 brittle sheets of birch bark.