We know that Archimedes was a native of Syracuse , Sicily and that much of his scientific and inventive works were conducted in this particular Eastern Sicilian city during the 200'S BC/BCE. However, did Archimedes ever spend any length of time in Alexandria, Egypt, specifically at the city's Library and its adjacent college? Did he work as a type of Research Fellow for the Library-(similar to a Research Fellow at the Library of Congress)?

If Archimedes did spend time at the Alexandrian Library, did he draw upon the numerous scientific and mathematical papyri and scrolls within the Library?


It is possible, although there is no direct evidence to confirm it. We have no surviving documents that state explicitly that Archimedes studied in Alexandria.

We know that Conon of Samos and Eratosthenes of Cyrene were contemporaries in Alexandria. On a couple of occasions, Archimedes referred to Conon of Samos as his friend. In addition, two of his works (The Method of Mechanical Theorems and the Cattle Problem) have introductions addressed to Eratosthenes of Cyrene.

Among many others, Thomas G. Chondros has argued that this implies the Archimedes studied in Alexandria [Archimedes life works and machines, Elsevier, 2010].

However, it is also quite possible that both Conon and Eratosthenes travelled to Syracuse and met Archimedes there.

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There is compelling circumstantial evidence that Archimedes studied in Alexandria as a young man, but I believe he was back in Syracuse in 265. He would have then been about 22. At that time, Hieron 11 became king of Syracuse and would have commissioned the famous golden crown and asked Archimedes to verify its gold content.

In 240, Eratosthenes calculated the circumference of the earth and a critical part of his geometry was the distance between Alexandria and Syene. He may have used bematists, contemporary Egyptian records and a hodometer to check the land distance, then estimate the direct distance.

Coincidentally in 240, Hieron's lavish grain/passenger ship designed by Archimedes, The Alexandrian, berthed in Alexandria. Archimedes may have been a passenger, bringing with him his land distance measurer, the hodometer. It may be that Eratosthenes used this device invented by his colleague, Archimedes.

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