The History of the Archimedes Palimpsest
At 2pm on October 29th, 1998, at Christie’s auction house in New York, a very special old book was sold to an anonymous collector for $2,000,000
At 2pm on October 29th, 1998, at Christie’s auction house in New York, a very special old book was sold to an anonymous collector for $2,000,000. This collector deposited the manuscript at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore in order to conserve it, image it, and study it.
The book is special because it contains seven treatises by the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. Two of these treatises, The Stomachion and The Method exist nowhere else in the world. This book is also the unique source for Archimedes’ treatise On Floating Bodies in the original Greek.
The Archimedes Palimpsest, as this book is called, has true claims to greatness: it is the earliest surviving Archimedes manuscript by about 400 years; it is the most important source for the diagrams that Archimedes drew in the sand in Syracuse, in the third century B.C.
It is by far the most important evdence we have for the greatness of Archimedes. And Archimedes was a very great man.