This is the oldest known bit of Euclid's Elements
. It was found around 1897 in a garbage dump in the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus, along with 400,000 other fragments of papyrus. It goes back to sometime before 125 AD, and it states a geometrical fact that can translated into modern algebra as:
ab + (a-b)^2 / 4 = (a+b)^2 / 4
Thanks to this dump they've pieced together new fragments of plays by Euripides, Sophocles and Menander, lost lines from the poets Sappho, Hesiod, and Archilocus, and most of a book by Hesiod!
The photograph here is by Bill Casselman. For more, read this:http://www.math.ubc.ca/~cass/Euclid/papyrus/
and check out Oxyrhyncus online
They're using 'multispectral imaging' to help read severely damaged old pieces of papyrus! I love it when people use the latest technology to dig deep into the past. #ScienceSunday