Geek Alert: The Archimedes Palimpsest

I just love the Internet sometimes. Thanks to a link at Metafilter, I just found out that the entire text, data and images from the Archimedes Palimpsest have been released on the Web under a Creative Commons license. Palimpsest is an odd word that refers to a manuscript that has been scraped or wiped clean and had something else written over top of it, and that’s exactly what the Archimedes manuscript is. It’s actually what’s known as an “euchologion” or prayer book from the 11th century, but in order to save money the authors reused some parchment they had lying around — and that happened to include a copy of a manuscript by the Greek scholar Archimedes, including several treatises that don’t exist in any other form. It took four years to dismantle the manuscript and prepare it for imaging, something that was done with some help from the Canadian Conservation Institute, and then to scan and use optical-character recognition and translate the text. All of that material is now online.

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