The first winner of the Neumann Prize of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM) has been announced at the Society’s Autumn meeting, held in London on Saturday 19th  September.

The prize, which will be awarded every two years, is for the best book in the history of mathematics which is aimed at a broad audience. This year’s winner is /The Archimedes Codex / by Reviel Netz and William Noel. It tells both of the life and work of one of the ancient world’s greatest mathematicians, Archimedes of Syracuse (/c./ 287 BC – /c./ 212
BC), and of the hi-tech scientific detective work surrounding the rediscovery of a 10th century copy of some of Archimedes’ work which had been hidden beneath the text of a 13th century prayer book.

The book weaves together a number of themes, including the importance and creativity of early mathematics, the production and transmission of ancient manuscripts, and the big science which surrounds the analysis of such documents.

Professor Martin Campbell-Kelly of the University of Warwick, and chair of the judging panel for the Neumann Prize, said that “although the panel was faced with a strong shortlist of books /The Archimedes Codex, /with its readable combination of history and modern scientific sleuthing, emerged as a clear winner.”

Reviel Netz, Professor of Classics at StanfordUniversity in California, and Dr William Noel Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books from The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland were delighted with the award. Speaking on behalf of his co-author, Professor Reviel Netz stated that “The British Society for the History of Mathematics has an international reputation for scholarship, and we are hugely honoured to be the
inaugural winners of this award.”

Dr Peter Neumann OBE, the academic and Emeritus Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford in whose honour the prize in named, stated “I am very gratified that the standard was so very high on this, the first year of award. I was very pleased with the remarkable diversity of the books on the shortlist and that from that shortlist, the award should be made for the remarkable book by Reviel Netz and William Noel.”