Lecture with Dr. William Noel: “Lost and Found: The Archimedes Palimpsest”

A swashbuckling tale of discovery! A manuscript of extraordinary importance to the history of science!

Thursday, April 5 6:00pm
Enticing edibles served.
FREE and Open to the public.

John Carter Brown Library
94 George Street
Providence, RI
(Brown University Campus, near the corner of George and Brown Streets)

Dr. William Noel, Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at The Walters Art Museum will give a lecture at the John Carter Brown Library for the Watts History of the Book Program on Thursday, April 5th at 6:00PM in the MacMillan Reading Room. The subject of this lecture is a manuscript of extraordinary importance to the history of science, the Archimedes Palimpsest. The Archimedes Palimpsest, a 13th-century Greek prayer book written over a re-purposed and much earlier medieval manuscript of classical texts, sold at auction to a private collector on the 29th October 1998. A few months later, the owner deposited the manuscript at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Since then it has been subjected to extensive conservation, cutting edge imaging technology, and intense scholarly scrutiny to reveal the erased ancient texts — the result being not just new light on known classical works, but the discovery of two treatises by Archimedes that can be found nowhere else, speeches by the 4th-century Athenian orator called Hyperides, and a 3rd-century A.D. commentary on Aristotle’s Categories. The project, now in its twelfth year, has generated a great deal of public curiosity, as well as interest from scholars throughout the world. All the raw imaging data, as well as transcriptions of the unique texts have been published online. William Noel was the Project’s director and will give an account of the history of the book, the project, and the amazing discoveries that were made along the way. More information on the Archimedes Palimpsest may be found at www.archimedespalimpsest.org.

Dr. William Noel, is Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books at The Walters ArtMuseum, Baltimore, a position he took up in 1997. He received his Ph.D in 1993 from Cambridge University England. Among the Positions he has held are Director of Studies in the History of Art, Downing College, Cambridge University and Assistant Curator of Manuscripts, The J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Harley Psalter, Cambridge Studies inPalaeography and Codicology Vol. 4, Cambridge University Press 1995, a detailed investigation into the making of an illustrated eleventh-century Psalter, and the author of “The Oxford Bible Pictures”Facsimile Verlag, Luzern and The Walters Art Museum, 2004 which concerns a series of English miniatures of the thirteenthcentury in The Walters Art Museum. He is also co-editor and contributor to and exhibition catalogue: The Utrecht Psalter in Medieval Art: Picturing the Psalms of David, London, 1996. In 2002, together with Professor Daniel Weiss and Dr Griffith Mann, he curated an exhibition entitled “The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library’s Medieval Picture Bible” at The Walters Art Museum. Since January 1999, Dr Noel has directed an international program to conserve, image and study the Archimedes Palimpsest. He has co-written a popular account of the project, entitled “The Archimedes Codex’, together with professor Reviel Netz, which published by Wiedenfeld and Nicolson (2007). He is the Curator of the exhibition: “Lost and Found: The Secrets of Archimedes”, and the co-editor of the two volume publication by Cambridge University Press on The Archimedes Palimpsest. Dr Noel was the principal grant writer for two successful applications to the NEH to create full digital surrogates of The Walters holdings of illuminated Islamic, English, Dutch, Central European, Armenian, Byzantine and Ethiopian manuscripts. Dr Noel has taught and lectured widely. He is on the Faculty of Rare Book School, University of Virginia, and he is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of History of Art, Johns Hopkins University.

This lecture is part of the 2011-2012 series:

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