The subject of this lecture is a manuscript of extraordinary importance to the history of science, the Archimedes Palimpsest. This thirteenth century prayer book contains erased texts that were written several centuries earlier still. These erased texts include two treatises by Archimedes that can be found nowhere else, The Method and Stomachion. The manuscript sold at auction to a private collector on the 29th October 1998. The owner deposited the manuscript at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, a few months later. Since that date the manuscript has been the subject of conservation, imaging and scholarship, in order to better read the texts. The Archimedes Palimpsest project, as it is called, has shed new light on Archimedes and revealed new texts from the ancient world. These new texts include speeches by an Athenian orator from the fourth century B.C. called Hyperides, and a third century A.D. commentary on Aristotle's Categories. The project, has generated a great deal of public curiosity, as well as the interest of scholars throughout the world. All the raw imaging data, as well as transcriptions of the unique texts in the manuscript have been published on the web.
William Noel was the Project's director, and he will give an account of the history of the book and the project, and discuss its discoveries. Dr. William Noel is Director of the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscript, and Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at The University of Pennsylvania, positions he took up in September 2012. Before that he was Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. He received his PhD in 1993 from Cambridge University England.