Johan Ludvig Heiberg (historian)

Johan Ludvig Heiberg (* November 27, 1854; † January 4, 1928 ) was a Danish historian of mathematics and classical philologist.


Heiberg studied classics and mathematics and received his doctorate in 1879 in Copenhagen about Archimedes with the dissertation Quaestiones Archi Medeae. At first he was a high school teacher and from 1884 to 1895 director of a secondary school. In the 1880s he was at the forefront of a movement for Greek lessons in Danish schools. 1896 to 1924 he was professor of classical philology in Copenhagen, where he was not limited to his historical mathematics specialty. In the academic year 1915/16 he served as rector of the university.

Heiberg is known primarily for his work on Archimedes, whose complete works he bought 1880/81 in Leipzig Teubner in three volumes. He achieved fame in 1906 in Constantinople Opel by the discovery of the manuscript (see palimpsest of Archimedes ) of a previously unknown work by Archimedes in which this his "mechanical" revealed methods by which he made many of his geometrical discoveries. It originally came from the Greek Orthodox church library in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and later in their Metochion in Istanbul. Heiberg learned of the existence of mathematical manuscripts by an indication of H. Beautiful on a catalog of Greek manuscripts in the library of Istanbul ecclesiastical AI Papadopoulos Kerameus, which was published in 1899. In two trips in 1906 and 1908, he was able to make photographs of the manuscript. After the manuscript was then gone for long, it was auctioned in 1998 and it is currently being investigated by modern methods at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Heiberg worried also issues of Ptolemy, the conic doctrine of Apollonius of Perga, the elements and the works of Euclid, where he brought out the first critical edition of the items that are not as before usual based on the discovered in the Vatican Library by Francois Peyrard manuscript and manuscripts who came from the line of Theon of Alexandria, who worked his output considerably. Heiberg's text formed the basis of modern translations, such as that of Thomas Heath and Clemens Thaer.

In 1904 he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University.

He has published in both Danish, German, Greek, Latin and Arabic.


  • History of mathematics and the natural sciences in antiquity, München, Beck, 1960 ( reprint of Beck 1925 )
  • Natural Sciences and Mathematics in classical antiquity, Leipzig, Teubner 1912 (English Edition Oxford University Press 1922)
  • Science, mathematics and medicine in classical antiquity, 2nd edition, Leipzig, Teubner 1920
  • Literargeschichtliche studies of Euclid, Teubner 1882
  • Contributions to the History Georg Valla 's and his library, central issue of Library, Supplement 16, 1896
  • Italy. Spredte Studier above Rejseskitser, Gyldendal, Copenhagen 1904
  • Fra Hellas. Populaire Afhandlinger, Jesperson above Pios Forlag 1920
  • Fra Hellas og Italy, 2 vols, Copenhagen 1929

As the editor:

  • Archimedes Opera Omnia. Cum commentariis Eutocii, 3 volumes, Stuttgart, Teubner, 1972 ( Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, reprint of the 2nd edition, Teubner, Leipzig 1910-1915 )
  • A new Archimedeshandschrift, Hermes: Journal of philology, Volume 42, 1907, pp. 235-303 English Translation: Geometrical solutions derived from mechanics, a treatise of Archimedes, recently Discovered and translated from the Greek by Dr. JL Heiberg, Chicago, the Open Court Publishing Company 1909 (Introduction David Eugene Smith)
  • The method of Archimedes - recently Discovered by Heiberg. A supplement to the works of Archimedes 1897, publisher Thomas L. Heath, Cambridge University Press 1912
  • German translation of the elements of Clemens Thaer according to Heiberg's edition, Leipzig, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft 1933-1937, 5 volumes and Darmstadt University Press 1969
  • English translation of the elements after the issuance of Heiberg by Thomas L. Heath, Cambridge University Press, 1908, 2nd edition 1926