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Mathematical Treasure: 16th Century Tuscan Arithmetic

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Arithmetica (1577) is an anonymous manuscript (Plimpton MS 223), believed to have been written in the Tuscany region of Italy. It is rather artistically rendered as the cover design shows (folio 1).

Folio 1 from Arithmetica, 1577

One type of problem considered in the work involves the computation of the volume of vats used in wine production (folios 45v-46).                                              

Folios 45 (verso) and 46 from Arithmetica, 1577

The images above have been obtained through the kind cooperation of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the Columbia University Libraries. These and more images may be accessed via Digital Scriptorium, a digital collection of medieval and early Renaissance manuscripts made available by a consortium of cooperating university libraries headed by the University of California, Berkeley. 

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: 16th Century Tuscan Arithmetic," Convergence (June 2018)