Ancient Mechanics

Jack Sasson sent out an interesting story from the NY Times this morning on his Agade mailing list (“The Ancient Mechanics and How They Thought” by Guy Gugliotta). I would give a link, but you need a subscription.

The article describes a research project based at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin called the Archimedes Project.This project combines two of my favorite things, open-access digital text archives and mechanics (my BS is in Mechanical Engineering). The project is compiling ancient texts which refer to mechanics in order to study the history of thought in regard to such things. So far there are only a few texts up, and I was disappointed to see none of the Arabic texts available (though perhaps I missed them). Also, I found reference to work being done on Greek, Italian, and Arabic texts, but I wonder if there are also some relevant Syriac texts?

At the related Harvard site there is also some information on the various technologies being developed to tag and analyze the texts which may be useful to studying other ancient documents. It is unfortunate that there are so many similar projects being undertaken at various institutions with little standardization.


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