I originally put this question on Mythology SE, but was suggested I move it here.

I was doing some mindless research and came across a Wikipedia page on lost works and went down to the classical period. Nothing grabbed my attention until I saw On Sphere-Making by Archimedes. The title was in red, so I clicked on it and got a blank page.

This tells me that we know nothing that was in the sphere making manuscript. Do we really know nothing? Has nothing survived? If something did survive, what do we know about what Archimedes wrote?

  • 4
    This tells me that we know nothing that was in the sphere making manuscript No. This tells you that there is no Wikipedia article by that name...
    – SJuan76
    Feb 24, 2018 at 22:51
  • 1
    A few years ago, Michael Wright wrote a paper on The Sphere/Planetarium of Archimedes (pdf). He reconstructed a model which was exhibited.
    – J Asia
    Feb 25, 2018 at 6:22

1 Answer 1


The information on existence of this book comes from Pappus (who lived about 500 years after Archimedes). By the "sphere" they mean what is called planetarium now, it is a mechanical model of the solar system. Some writers mention that Archimedes actually made one or more. Marcellius, the Roman general who looted Syracuse brought one to Rome and donated to a temple.

Several Roman writers have seen it, and mention it, but none of them understood enough about astronomy to give a reasonable description.

Ref. https://www.math.nyu.edu/~crorres/Archimedes/Sphere/SphereIntro.html

There are further references there.

  • 1
    The reference is in book 8, introduction / p. 1026 line 11-12 here, and the book's name was Sphairopoiian
    – b a
    Feb 24, 2018 at 22:38
  • @b a: do you know if there is any English translation of Pappus?
    – Alex
    Feb 24, 2018 at 22:41
  • I have no previous knowledge on this, but there's apparently a French translation and a partial English translation (Wikipedia)
    – b a
    Feb 24, 2018 at 22:46

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