Who Invented the Pythagorean Theorem?

It is said generally that the Pythagorean Theorem was invented by a Greek named Pythagoras. Obviously it was named after him and is said to have been discovered or invented by the year 530 BC. However, researchers have found proof that even though documents do date and trace back to him but the theory itself might have existed a lot earlier than we might have believed.


Background on Pythagoras

Very little is known about the early years of Pythagoras who lived from 569 to 500 B.C.E. He was born on Samos Island in Greece. Since the theory is named after him it is assumed that he is its inventor. However, it is known that he spent a lot of his time traveling all through Egypt. He spent learning a lot of things in his travel there especially about mathematics.

His famed status came about when he formed the Brotherhood of Pythagoreans. The group was dedicated to the learning and study of mathematics. Like a lot of ancient groups it became a bit more cultic inculcating rituals, prayers, and symbols. They even gave numerical values to many thoughts, ideas, and objects. It was also believed that such values were endued with mystical qualities.


After completing the Pythagorean Theorem, as legend puts it, Pythagoras then proceeded to sacrifice 100 oxen. He also wrote plenty of geometric proofs. However, since his founded group also had a shade of secrecy it became quite hard to figure out who the actual authors were.

Date of the Pythagorean Theorem

He, Pythagoras, is credited for the authorship of the Pythagorean Theorem; however it is not really possible to really tell if he really was its author. The rudiments of the theory can also be found in a portion of a tablet from Babylonia dating to 1900 B.C.E., which is about 4,000 years old to date.

The said tablet may contain the same parts of the Pythagorean Theorem but it doesn’t specifically mention everything in explicit terms. It even lists Pythagorean Triples in columns. The said fragment is part of a collection in Columbia University in New York.

Interpreting the History of the Pythagorean Theorem

From what we know, we can divide the history of this theorem into three parts. First is the knowledge of Pythagorean Triples. Next is the understanding of the relationship of the right triangle’s sides. Next is that of the adjacent angles, and finally proofs for the said theorem. From what we know of Pythagoras, his travels, learning, and the antiquity of the principles behind the theorem, we can only assume by tradition that he is the author of the theorem.