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The Archimedes Palimpsest, Vols. 1 and 2

William Noel
Nigel Wilson
Natalie Tchernetska
Cambridge University Press
December 2011

The Archimedes Palimpsest is the name given to a Byzantine prayer-book which was written over a number of earlier manuscripts, including three unique examples containing works by Archimedes, unquestionably the greatest mathematician of antiquity. Sold at auction in 1998, it has since been the subject of a privately funded project to conserve, image and transcribe its texts. In Volume 1, the scientists, conservators, classicists and historians involved in the project discuss in full their techniques and their discoveries. These include new speeches by the classical Athenian orator Hyperides, a lost commentary on Aristotle's Categories from the second or third century AD and substantial re-readings and reinterpretations of the works by Archimedes. The book discusses the pioneering imaging and post-processing techniques used to reveal the texts and includes detailed codicological descriptions of all eight manuscripts comprising the Palimpsest. It will be of interest to manuscript scholars, classicists and historians of science. In Volume 2, pride of place goes to the treatises of Archimedes, including the only Greek version of Floating Bodies, and the unique copies of Method and Stomachion. This transcription provides many different readings from those made by Heiberg from what he termed Codex C in his edition of the works of Archimedes of 1910–1915. Secondly, fragments of two previously unattested speeches by the Athenian orator Hyperides, which are the only Hyperides texts ever to have been found in a codex. Thirdly, a fragment from an otherwise unknown commentary on Aristotle's Categories. In each case advanced image-processing techniques have been used to create the images, in order to make the text underneath legible. (Cambridge UP)