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The Archimedes PalimpsestThe Archimedes Palimpsest is a palimpsest on parchment in the form of a codex which originally was a copy of an otherwise unknown work of the ancient mathematician, physicist, and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse and other authors. Archimedes lived in the third century BC, but the copy was made in the 10th century by an anonymous scribe. In the 12th century the codex was unbound and washed, in order that the parchment leaves could be folded in half and reused for a Christian liturgical text. It was a book of nearly 90 pages before being made a palimpsest of 177 pages; the older leaves folded so that each became two leaves of the liturgical book. The erasure was incomplete, and Archimedes' work is now readable using digital processing of ultraviolet, X-ray, and visible light.

In 1906 it was briefly inspected in Constantinople and was published, from photographs, by the Danish philologist Johan Ludvig Heiberg (1854–1928); shortly thereafter Archimedes' Greek text was translated into English by Thomas Heath. Before that it was not widely known among mathematicians, physicists, or historians. It contains:

  • "Equilibrium of Planes"

  • "Spiral Lines"

  • "The Measurement of the Circle"

  • "Sphere and Cylinder"

  • "On Floating Bodies" (only known copy in Greek)

  • "The Method of Mechanical Theorems" (only known copy)

  • "Stomachion" (only known copy)

The palimpsest also contains speeches by the 4th century BC politician Hypereides, and a commentary on Aristotle's Categories by Alexander of Aphrodisias.
Source: Wikipedia.


Video: The Archimedes Palimpsest by Will Noel, Roger L. Easton, Jr., and Michael B. Toth

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Last updated: September 7, 2007