In the history of mathematics Archimedes has a very important role due to his significant contributions that transcend his time, Ancient and Classical Greece; and that they identify him as one of the most important mathematicians of humanity .


Personal information

  • When was he born:  287 BC
  • Where he was born:  Syracuse, Italy
  • When he died:  212 BC C.
  • Where he died:  Syracuse, Italy

Who was Archimedes?

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, astronomer, engineer, physicist and inventor of Classical Antiquity , born in Syracuse possibly in 287 BC and assassinated in 212 BC Among his most outstanding works, we can mention: the principle of buoyancy, the largest ship in ancient history, the Archimedean screw, the Archimedean claw, the heat ray, the first planetarium , among others.

  • Archimedes biography
  • Death
  • Contributions
  • Theory
  • Archimedes inventions
  • Plays
  • Archimedes phrases
  • Anecdote

Archimedes biography

Not much is known about the life of Archimedes. It is believed that he was born in 287 BC in Syracuse – now known as Sicily – city of Magna Graecia at that time.

Some anecdotes of his life have been documented such as the case of the crown of King Hieron, in which he shouted “Eureka” and discovered the principle that bears his name, but unfortunately there is no detailed bibliography of his life.

Despite the importance of his written works and inventions, Archimedes was cited by the mathematicians of Alexandria in 530 AD.

In the Middle Ages, his works were well accepted by the scientists of the time.

Years later, in 1906 other works of Archimedes are known in the Palimpsest Archimedes he has provided new insights into his work in the field of mathematics.

His death was not well documented either and that is why it is stated that there are three versions of this fact that coincide in that it occurred in his birthplace, Syracuse, and that it could have been in 212 BC by a Roman soldier who murdered him in the shot of Syracuse, produced this year.


On the death of Archimedes there are many versions. However, all agree that he was assassinated by a Roman soldier who contravened the orders of the Roman general Marcelo to keep this great Greek mathematician alive.

According to the best known accounts, he was working on a mathematical diagram when the city was invaded by the Romans. A soldier gave him the order to leave his house and Archimedes ignored him and continued solving his diagram. The annoyed soldier at his attitude took his life with his sword.

It is said that the last words Archimedes said to the Roman soldier were “don’t disturb my circles” in reference to the circles in his math problem.


Among the most significant contributions of Archimedes, the following can be mentioned:

Archimedean screw

This device is used to transport water from the bottom up through a slope, a tube or cylinder. This device made it possible to irrigate the fertile lands located around the Nile in ancient Egypt .

Archimedes principle

This is one of the most important legacies of the Ancient epic as it explains the phenomenon of floating . This principle is found in his treatise “On floating bodies . 

The Archimedes ‘ principle states that the fluids exert upward force on any object immersed in them, and that the amount of this buoyant force equals the weight of the liquid displaced by the submerged body.

Archimedes claw

This invention is also known as an iron hand and is one of the most important weapons of war created by this mathematician for the defense of Sicily from the Roman invasions.

The claw consisted of a large lever that carried a grappling hook attached by a chain that hung from it. With the lever the hook was manipulated so that it fell on the enemy ship, to later hook it and lift it, and release it at great height or make it hit the rocks on the shore in order to destroy the enemy ship.

The first planetarium

He was the first to build a rudimentary planetarium with a series of spheres representing the solar system .

According to Cicero , he built two planetariums. The first represented the earth and the constellations near it and the second was a representation of the solar system in which the sun, the moon and the planets made rotational movements and the lunar phases could be identified.

Mechanical method

Archimedes included his mechanical method for reasoning and argumentation of geometry problems , which facilitated the resolution of these problems. For this reason he is considered the forerunner of mechanics.


Archimedes’ theory says that every body immersed in a fluid experiences an upward vertical push equal to the weight of the dislodged fluid .

Archimedes inventions

Of the most important inventions created by Archimedes we can mention the following:

  • The principle of buoyancy , used to calculate the mass and volume of an irregular body from its density.
  • The Syracuse , was the largest ship in ancient history , capable of carrying 600 people decorated gardens. This had a gymnasium and a temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite .
  • The screw , to pump liquids and transfer water to the irrigation channels.
  • The claw was one of the most useful war inventions to defend Syracuse from Roman attacks.
  • The beam of heat to set fire to enemy vessels. This artifact consisted of polished bronze mirrors that project the sun’s heat onto enemy ships to burn and destroy them.


The texts made by Archimedes were written in Doric Greek, which was the dialect spoken in ancient Syracuse. These works were disseminated by the mathematician through correspondence with other mathematicians in Alexandria.

Below are the most significant works of Archimedes that were preserved over time. These are:

  • On the balance of the planes (in two volumes)
  • About the measure of a circle
  • About the spirals
  • About the sphere and cylinder
  • About the Conoids and Spheroids
  • On floating bodies (in two volumes)
  • Squaring the parable
  • Ostomachion
  • Archimedes’ cattle problem
  • The sand counter
  • The method of mechanical theorems

Archimedes phrases

Below are some of Archimedes’ best known phrases. These are:

  • “Eureka!”
  • “He who tried and did not succeed is superior to the one who did not try.”
  • “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”
  • “He who knows how to speak also knows when to shut up.”
  • “A look back is worth more than a look forward.”
  • “The game is a fundamental condition to be serious.”
  • “Dreams are the hopes of fools.”
  • “Give me a foothold and I will move the world.”
  • “Who knows what to do, also knows when.”


One of the most famous anecdotes of Archimedes is the one referring to the golden crown of King Hieron .

They say that one day King Hiero called for Archimedes to check if his crown was made of pure gold or if it had another metal inside. Archimedes was to do this job without destroying the king’s crown.

Upon arriving home, Archimedes was meditating on how to solve the difficult task that the king had entrusted to him and decided to take a bath without imagining that there would be the answer he was looking for.

This great mathematician, upon entering the bathtub, realized that the water level rose when he immersed himself in it and that is how he was able to discover the principle that states that “I touch a body that is immersed in a fluid receives an upward push, equal to the weight of the fluid dislodged ” .

Upon discovering this principle, Archimedes is said to have emerged naked from the bathroom shouting ” Eureka” which means ” I have found it . 

By applying this discovery, he was able to divide the weight of the crown by the volume of water displaced to obtain the density of the jewel. In this way, if the density of the crown was not equal to the density of gold, this would be because other less dense metals would have been added to it.

This is how Archimedes was able to fulfill his task to King Hieron and confirm whether the crown was made of pure gold or if it had another type of metal.

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