The Bakhshali Manuscript

A leaf from a birch bark manuscript that was discovered in 1881 by a farmer while digging a field about fifty miles from modern Peshawar in Pakistan. The text is a collection of algorithms and sample problems in verse, with a commentary explaining them in a combination of prose and numerical notation. It provides unique evidence for how medieval Indian mathematics was written in manuscript. Numerals are expressed in decimal place form and the zero is represented by a round dot. Quantities are expressed in numerals set off from the text by horizontal and vertical boxes. Fractions are written in the familiar way, but with no line dividing numerator and denominator, and negative values are shown by a small cross after the number, similar to the modern ‘+’ sign.

This Treasure isn’t currently on display in the Weston Library.