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The Archimedes Palimpsest Texts Revealed

The oldest Google Book in the world, click here to see Archimedes Palimpsest in digital format.

Archimedes Palimpsest Lectures

Join us for talks and presentations regarding the Archimedes Palimpsest. Click here for upcoming dates.

Google TechTalk 1

March 7, 2006
Carl Malamud, Will Noel, Roger L. Easton, Jr. Michael B. Toth.
The Archimedes Palimpsest is a 10th Century medieval manuscript that is the subject of an ongoing technical, scientific and conservation effort at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Since 1999, the multidisciplinary team has been disbinding, conserving, imaging, analyzing, transcribing and studying the 174 parchment folios – yielding approximately 400Gb of data to date. The Archimedes Palimpsest, which the team affectionately calls “Archie,” includes at least seven treatises by Archimedes.

Google TechTalk 2

September 8, 2008
Mike Toth and Doug Emery
Following up on the March 7, 2006, Google TechTalk on the Archimedes Palimpsest, this presentation will discuss the challenges faced in hosting the digital multispectral images, metadata and encoded transcriptions on the Web. After a decade of scientific study of this historic and valuable manuscript, on October 29, 2008, all the Archimedes Palimpsest images and transcription data will be released to the public. The release candidate will be available at in time for this TechTalk. The Program Manager and the Data Manager of the Archimedes Palimpsest Team will discuss advances in the imaging program since 2006, the collection and management of the data, the Greek transcriptions, and the encoding of the transcriptions in a standardized format. They will also discuss the free availability of the data under a Creative Commons license for the development of GUI's and applications linking the spatially aligned images and transcriptions.

Infinite Possibilities: Eight Years of Study of the Archimedes Palimpsest
Annual General Meeting of the American Philosophical Society

April 26, 2007 9 15am EST, Benjamin Franklin Hall, Philadelphia
Presented by William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD and Roger L. Easton, Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology.
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The Evidence Project Presents Ancient Writings Revealed!

August 4, 2006 – 4 pm PST, McBean auditorium
Join us at the Exploratorium or online as we watch ancient text revealed and read for the first time in a thousand years! Archimedes was one of the world's greatest scientific and mathematical minds. His thoughts were inscribed on goatskin parchment, but the letters and diagrams were scraped off and written over by Greek monks in the Middle Ages. Now, using an intense x-ray beam generated at Stanford University's linear accelerator, some of the original Greek text will be revealed for the first time in the modern world.
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Book TV on C-Span
William Noel, Co-author, “The Archimedes Codex”

In October of 1998 at an auction at Christie's in New York, an anonymous American book collector purchased a 13th century prayer book for 2 million dollars. The prayer book is a palimpsest; a book that was written over older words that had been scrapped off the animal skin or parchment pages. In this case, the prayer book was written over 10th century manuscript copies of treatises by ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes (287-212BC). The anonymous bidder deposited the manuscript with the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and has funded a 10 year project to read the works under the prayer book. Along with discovering lost works by Archimedes, other ancient texts previously thought lost have been discovered.
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NPR All things Considered
A Prayer Book's Secret Archimedes Lies beneath
by David Kestenbaum

July 27th 2006
Why would anyone pay $2 million for a tattered book of Christian prayers from 1200 A.D. The anonymous philanthropist who coughed up the sum in 1998 wasn't lured by the holy writings. He was after the faint ink beneath – mathematical theorems and diagrams from the Greek scholar Archimedes, who lived more than 2,000 years ago. It's the oldest known copy of his work, but the writings were barely legible. But now, a new restoration technique may make it possible to recover all of Archimedes' original text.
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PBS, NOVA, Infinite Secrets: The Archimedes Palimpsest

September, 2003
Science and Nature, BBC2, Archimedes' Secret, March 14, 2002
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The Archimedes Codex: the Many Layers of the World's Greatest Palimpsest

Reviel Netz, Stanford University
The Archimedes Palimpsest is a 13th century Greek prayerbook in which, just barely visible, one can see traces of what, it turns out, is the oldest surviving evidence for the works of Archimedes. Sold in auction, 8 years ago, for 2 million dollars, this unique manuscript has been the subject of an intensive collaborative project, involving both scientists and scholars from around the world. How did the works of Archimedes get buried so deep? What did we find as we uncovered them? The talk leads through three major breakthroughs, based on UV-Light, Multispectral Imaging, and X-Ray Fluorescence – revealing Archimedes' surprising insight into both finite and infinite methods (which, ultimately, underlie the techniques used in deciphering him).
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X-rays Reveal Archimedes Secrets

Jonathan Fildes, BBC News
This story was the most popular story on the BBC site, on Thursday it was listed as the most popular story of the past five days – though only live for two days.
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Eureka! Ancient Works by Archimedes Rediscovered

Geneviève Roberts, The Independent
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Eureka! X-ray Vision Helps Decipher Archimedes's Words of Wisdom

Roger Highfield, The Daily Telegraph
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X-Rays Illuminate Archimedes Writings

United Press International
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EL PAIS in Spanish

“Rayos X para Arquímedes” (“X-Rays for Archimedes”)
July 30, 2006
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13th Century Text Hides Words of Archimedes

Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2006
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Modern Technology Reveals Ancient Science

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A Layered Look Reveals Ancient Greek Texts

New York Times
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Archimedes' Secrets Revealed Atom Smasher, Davide Castelvecchi

National Geographic Online
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Slashback Archimedes Gets a Webcast, Slashdot

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Reading the Invisible

The Economist
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Associated Press Articles