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28.11.06

Palimpsest Yields Its Secrets

Other Articles:

David Kestenbaum, A Prayer Book's Secret: Archimedes Lies Beneath (NPR, July 27, 2006)

Peter Tyson, Working with Infinity: A Mathematical Perspective (PBS/NOVA, September 2003)
A fascinating article by Felicia R. Lee (A Layered Look Reveals Ancient Greek Texts, November 27) in the New York Times describes the new work, a combination of science and good old paleographic codex study, to decode sections of the Archimedes Palimpsest:
[It] is best known for containing some of the oldest copies of work by the great Greek mathematician who gives the manuscript its name. But there is more to the palimpsest than Archimedes’ work, including 10 pages of Hyperides, offering tantalizing and fresh insights into the critical battle of Salamis in 480 B.C., in which the Greeks defeated the Persians, and the battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C., which spelled the beginning of the end of Greek democracy. [...]

Imagers at Stanford University used powerful X-ray fluorescence imaging to read its final pages, which are being interpreted, transcribed and translated by a group of scholars in the United States and Europe. The new Hyperides revelations include two previously unknown speeches, effectively increasing this renowned orator’s body of work by 20 percent, said Judson Herrman, a 36-year-old professor of classics at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. He is one of a handful of classicists who have written doctoral dissertations on Hyperides. Hyperides lived from 390 or 389 B.C. until 322 B.C. and was an orator who made speeches at public meetings of the citizen assembly. A contemporary of Aristotle and Demosthenes, he wrote speeches for himself and for others and spoke at important political trials. In 322 B.C. Hyperides was executed by the Macedonians for participating in a failed rebellion.
Although a private collector purchased this precious document at auction in 1998, it has wisely been deposited, for now, in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore for study. See the Archimedes Palimpsest Project for more information.

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