Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 13:38:03 -0400
To: Athena Discuss 
Subject: Re: Archimedes and Diop

FISHERGM@jmu.edu wrote:

> I'm quite familiar with the works of Archimedes, as it
> happens.  I don't know at the moment which theorem of
> his is in question here, but Archimedes has lots of theorems,
> on a number of disparate topics.  Is it the case that Diop or
> others assert that the entire Archimedean corpus was derived
> from Egyptian sources, more or less in the form Archimedes
> gives them, along with his admirable derivations and
> interconnections (I hesitate to use the word "proofs", since
> this term has so many different associations for different
> people.) ???

>From Diop (Civilization or Barbarism, p. 242), in referring
to Archimedes:

 "Now, a sphere inscribed in a right cylinder of a height
  equal to the diameter of the sphere is the same figure
  that Archimedes chose as his epitaph, considering that
  this is his best discovery... Thus, Archimedes did not
  even have the excuse of an honest scholar who would
  rediscover an established theorem, without knowing that
  it had been discovered two thousand years before him
  by his Egyptian predecessors. The other 'borrowings' in 
  which he indulged himself, during and after his trip to Egypt,
  *without ever citing the sources of his inspiration*, 
  show clearly that he was perfectly conscious of his sin..."

And later:

 "Archimedes's treatise entitled _On the Euilibrium of Planes
  or of their Center of Gravity_ deals with the equilibrium
  of the lever, a problem that the Egyptians had mastered
  in 2600 BC..."

Still later:

 "...Archimedes would not 'invent' the continuous screw, the
  spiral, in Syracuse, Sicily, but during a trip to Egypt where
  this screw was invented, evidently, centuries before the
  birth of Archimedes, as Strabo's account proves.... Diodorus
  of Sicily writes: 'What is so amazing is that they (the miners)
  pump the water entirely by means of Egyptian screws that
  Archimedes of Syracuse invented during his trip to Egypt'."

So, if not the entire corpus of Archimedes work --Diop appears
to give him credit for improving upon the Egyptian estimate
of the number pi, though without crediting the Egyptian
contribution-- a good part of it seems to fall into question.

> Gordon Fisher     fishergm@jmu.edu

Regards,

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