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Area of a Parallelogram

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An Ancient Parallelogram

Credit: Jon Rawlinson
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/london/279506578/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

The ancient city of Pataliputra used to lie along the banks of the Ganges River in northern India. Originally constructed as a small fort in 490 BCE, this city would go on to serve as the capital of multiple empires across the span of centuries. It became a center of trade that attracted merchants and travelers from all over the subcontinent and as far away as Greece and China. Then it fell into ruin. Ancient writings and archaeological finds have allowed us to learn more about this mysterious city.

A City Where the Rivers Come Together

Archaeologists have determined that Pataliputra was built on a narrow strip of land between the Ganges and Son rivers. Two other rivers joined the Ganges near the ancient city, making its location ideal for commerce. Early in the city's history, the Buddha stopped by during his travelsIn the 300s BCE, a Greek diplomat from the Seleucid Empire by the name of Megasthenes visited Pataliputra. He chronicled his stay, writing about the city's architecture and society in detail. He noted that the city was oddly shaped. It was a parallelogram, approximately 14.5 kilometers long and only 2.4 kilometers wide. Megasthenes also described Pataliputra's impressive fortifications and magnificent palaces. The city was surrounded by a wooden wall with 570 towers and 64 gates and a moat that served as both a form of defense and a sewage system. Around the city, farmers grew sugarcane and cotton in the lands between the rivers.

Credit: Thomas Daniell
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:City_of_Patna,_on_the_River_Ganges,_19th_century.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

During his reign in the 200s BCE, Ashoka the Great, one of the rulers of the Maurya Empire, rebuilt Pataliputra's wooden walls and buildings in stone. The city served as the capital of four more empires, though in the 600s CE it began to fall into decline. In 1540 CE, the founder of the Suri Empire selected Pataliputra to serve once again as a imperial capital, revived what was left of the city, and renamed it. Today, Pataliputra lives on as Patna, a modern city with ancient roots. 

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r4iAFew068

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If Pataliputra was a parallelogram 14.5 km long and 2.4 km wide, what was the area of the city?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Jon Rawlinson; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/london/279506578/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Thomas Daniell; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:City_of_Patna,_on_the_River_Ganges,_19th_century.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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