In 1998 a mystery buyer paid over $2000000 for a very important book. There were fears that this would mean a return to the obscurity it had suffered for most of the previous century. The Archimedes Codex: Revealing The Secrets Of The World's Greatest Palimpsest
tells how this did not happen. William Noel explains how he had the task of extracting information from this document. It seemed like a hopeless task: the copy of Archimedes work had been scraped of and replaced by a prayer book, what remained had been examined in detail in 1906, and the book had suffered serious deterioration since that time. Despite these problems Noel tells how modern scientific techniques have found out much that is new about Archimedes.
The other author Rievel Netz, gives an explanation of the some of the mathematics found in the codex. Netz can be a bit long-winded at times, but he does give some feeling for the excitement he felt when he saw the possibility of finding previously unknown material, for example how Archimedes may have used calculus nearly two millennia before Leibniz and Newton.
Overall this book is a fascinating read, does not require any prior knowledge, and is recommended to anyone with an interest in the links between the modern and ancient worlds.
Note: more material on this project, including images from the codex itself, can be found at www.archimedespalimsest.org