Go to Warwick Lane and you will see a frieze representing a chess! It’s just a curiosity but… enjoy it!
Location: 8 Warwick Lane in London (map)
The Pitt Rivers Museum cares for the University of Oxford’s collection of anthropology and world archaeology. It is next to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History which was closed in August and it was very surprising for me and also for my kids (I think it’s an idela museum for children!).
There are some interesting mathematical objects in the collection and I am going to list some of them. First of all, we must focus our interest in the showcase dedicated to “counting”:
There are some old counting strings:
and this “swampan”:
“Swampan” or calculating board with sliding beads, used in casting accounts. The two upper balls on each bar = 5 each, the lower balls = units, similar to the roman abacus. China.
There also is the typical “soroban” which is next to a icture of a Roman abacus and in the upper right corner of the next picture:
“Soroban” or calculating board for casting accounts, similar to and derived from the Chinese “swampan”. Japan.
There is also a picture of a “quipu”.
There also are astrolabes and clocks. For example, there are a brass astrolabe dated in 1673 and sme interesting portable sundials:
Finally there is some showcases dedicated to games, dice, chess,… in the upper floor:
Before finishing this post, look at the next picture and try to guess who is this great man:
The Oxford University Museum of Natural History was closed but it was possible to walk around the inner yard and it was possible to see one of the famous statues dedicated to the great scientific men. So it was possible to take a photography of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz!
This astrolabe is the only one which I found in the Ashmolean Museum. It was probably made in Spain in 1260 and it’s lent by the Museum of the History of Science.
Finally, I noticed two game boards. The first is this bone, wood and horn board with chess on one side and backgammon on the other. It’s from Northern Italy (1420-1450):
The second one is also from Northern Italy and the same period and it’s a chessboard on one side and a game involving moving pieces along the coiled body of a dragon on the other:
And that’s all! I’m sure that there are more mathematical objects in the Ashmolean but… I didn’t find them. If you do, perhaps we can collaborate in another post!