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Home > Seminars > Reading Ancient Mathematical Texts

Axis History and philosophy of mathematics

Reading Ancient Mathematical Texts

This seminar is organized around a presentation of a primary source and the issues it raises, followed by a reading of this edited and translated source. A session can last up to 3 hours, and is conducted by experienced researchers, doctoral students, or even Master’s students. The working language is French or English depending on the case.

Organisers : Agathe Keller, Karine Chemla, (CNRS, CHSA, SPHere), and the associated group: H. Amini, F. Cornu, C. Morice-Singh, A. Volkov

PROGRAM 2023-2024

Seminars will be held every Thursday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. in room 628 (6th floor - Olympes de Gouge building) Université Paris Cité 8 Rue Albert Einstein Paris 75013

  • Thursday, 19th October 2023
    Leila Hamouda (Université de Tunis)
    ’’What’s new in al-Fārisī’s work concerning the multiplication of two numbers compared to his predecessors"
    Download program

  • Thursday, 16th November 2023
    Catherine Ledesert (Master’s degree in the history and philosophy of science Université Paris Cité)
    of circular motion

    Download program

  • Thursday, 21st December2023
    Carole Hofstetter (SPHERE)
    Les nombres en rapports épimore et épimère (superpartiel et superpartient) : Lectures de Nicomaque de Gerasa à partir de la période tardo-antique
    The communication will be looking at the notion of numbers in superparticular and superpatient ratios, and at the treatment given to the chapters of the /Introduction to Arithmetic/ that contain this particular terminology, by Nicomachus’ readers and commentators from the late Ancient Neoplatonic period onwards.

    To join the session online and to receive the documents, you can send an email to or join the mailing list of the seminar via the following link:
    Documents to be read and a Zoom link will soon be available.

    Donwload program below

  • Thursday, 18th January 2024
    Satyanad Kichenassamy (Laboratoire de Mathématiques de Reims, Université de Reims Champagne Ardenne & École Pratique des Hautes Études)
    The derivation of the diagonal of an oblong in Baudhāyana’s Śulvasūtra

    The earliest known statement of the theorem on the square of the diagonal of an oblong (cf. Euclid’s Elements, I.47), that a late tradition attributes to Pythagoras, is found in Prop. I.48 of Baudhāyana’s Śulvasūtra « Aphorisms on cord-geometry » (c. 800-400 BC, earlier than the Kaṭhā Upaniṣad). It is part of the earliest known fully rigorous discourse on geometry, consisting of Prop. I.1-62 of this Śulvasūtra. Prop. I.22-49 not only state the result, but also suggest a rigorous derivation, motivated by rigorous and non-rigorous arguments (Journal Asiatique, in press, and our course at EPHE in Paris this semester). The readings provide a first contact with Propositions I.22-49.
    To join the session online and to receive the documents, you can send an email to

  • Thursday, 7th March 2024

    Shuyuan Pan (Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China)
    Reading a practical geometric textbook for a Manchu Emperor: Jihe yuanben, the Chinese translation of Igance-Gaston Pardies’s Elemens de géométrie

  • Thursday, 4th April 2024

    Jean Christianidis (Université d’Athenes, Centre Alexandre Koyré)
    Solving arithmetic problems with premodern algebra: the example of Diophantus of Alexandria

  • Thursday, 2nd May 2024

    Guillaume Loizelet (Sphere) Kushyar Ibn Labban

  • Thursday, 30th May 2024

    Alexander Jones (ISAW)

  • Thursday, 27th June 2024

    Eunsoo Lee - (Seoul National University) to be confirmed
    "Pappus Collectio Book 4, some propositions about the quadratrix:4.26-29 (following Sefrin-Weis)"

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Université Paris Cité, bâtiment Condorcet, 4, rue Elsa Morante, 75013 - Paris (plan).

Accès : Métro ligne 14 / RER C / Station: Bibliothèque François Mitterrand
Métro ligne 6 / Station : Quai de la Gare
Bus 64 / Arrêt : Tolbiac-Bibliothèque François Mitterrand
Bus 62 & 89 / Arrêt : Avenue de France or Bibliothèque François Mitterrand (terminus)
Bus 325 / Arrêt : Watt