Infinite Possibilities: Ten Years of Study of the Archimedes Palimpsest
By Roger L. Easton and William Noel
Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol.154:1 (2010)
Introduction: The Archimedes Palimpsest is a tenth-century parchment manuscript that was erased early in the thirteenth century and overwritten with a book of Orthodox Christian prayers called the Euchologion. The book is so named because the original texts beneath the prayerbook was recognized early in the twentieth century to include partial copies of seven treatises by Archimedes, the oldest reproductions of writings by the Greek mathematician, scientist, and engineer. Important as these writings are, we now know that historically important writings by other Greek authors also were erased and used as pages in the same codex.
The manuscript was sold at auction in 1998 and lent by its anonymous owner to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which has supervised a ten-year effort to conserve, image, transcribe, and translate the writings hidden beneath the pages. This paper concentrates on the scientific techniques applied to analyze and read the original texts in the manuscripts.