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Mathematical Treasure: Mathematics of Gerbert of Aurillac

Author(s): 
Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

A French manuscript of the 12th century (Royal 15 B IX) contains writings of Gerbert of Aurillac (c. 946-1003) on astronomy and geometry. Here on folio 60v, Gerbert provides instruction on sighting using an astrolabe:

Folio 60v of a 12th century French manuscript containing work by Gerbert of Aurillac on the use of an astrolabe

On folio 61, Gerbert instructs the reader on using an astrolabe to obtain the height of a distant object:

Folio 61 of a 12th century French manuscript containing work by Gerbert of Aurillac

A 13th-century English manuscript (Royal 12 E XXV) contains a collection of mathematical treatises.  On folio 153v, an unknown author considers the problem of determining the height of a remote tower using methods based on Gerbert’s geometry.

Folio 153v from a 13th century English manuscript containing work based on Gerbert's geometry

The images above were obtained through the courtesy of the British Library. Further investigation of the images and their source can be obtained through the online services of the British Library. Where possible, manuscript reference numbers are given for the item being viewed.

Index to Mathematical Treasures

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Mathematics of Gerbert of Aurillac," Convergence (January 2020)

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