Getting to know Archimedes

Early Life

Born in Greece, Archimedes of Syracuse is a Mathematician, Inventor, Astronomer and Physicist. He lived from 287BC until 212 BC and was the son of Phidias who was also an Astronomer.


His formative education took place in a school in Egypt established by Euclid. He returned to Syracuse and it is here that most of his discoveries and inventions took place.

Archimedes Principle

It is an often-told tale about Archimedes and the discovery he made in the bath. He found the way to ascertain the volume of an irregular shaped object. King Hiero II suspected that the gold he had for his crown had been tainted with silver. He realised that as he entered the bath, a proportionate amount of water overflowed. He could determine the make-up of the gold in the same way.

Archimedes Screw

Again, Archimedes was in the employment of King Hiero II and he was to design a naval warship. It must hold 600 people and contained a temple and gymnasium. To prevent leakage through the hull a screw was developed to take out bilge water. This screw was a blade that was placed in a cylinder. It is an invention that is still in use today, but more often propels grain and coal as well as liquids.


None of his works survive to this day, but many future authors quote or refer to his work. What he wrote was produced in Doric Greek. In 530 A.D. Isidore of Miletus collecting his writings but it was Eutocius who brought him to prominence in the 6 th Century. He has been translated into both Latin and Arabic.

The location of the tomb of Archimedes is not known and it is considered that the story of him running naked through the town shouting “Eureka” is likely to be untrue.