This is the fourth interview in the series Three questions, in which scholars, invited to participate in the SAW events, answer three questions about their research.

It is my honour to introduce **Alexander Jones**, who will give a talk *Mathematics and Metrology in a Fourth-Century Greek Papyrus Codex* at the conference *Cultures of Computation and Quantification* in late March.

Alexander Jones is Professor of the **History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World**, New York University. He studied Classics at the University of British Columbia and the history of the early mathematical sciences in the Department of the History of Mathematics at Brown University. Before coming to NYU, he was for sixteen years on the faculty of the Department of Classics and the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. His work centers on the **history and transmission of the mathematical sciences, especially astronomy**. He is the author of several editions of Greek scientific texts, among them Pappus of Alexandria’s commentary on the corpus of Hellenistic geometrical treatises known as the “Treasury of Analysis”; an anonymous Byzantine astronomical handbook based on Islamic sources; and a collection of about two hundred fragmentary astronomical texts, tables, and horoscopes from the papyri excavated a century ago by Grenfell and Hunt at Oxyrhynchus. His current research interests include the contacts between Babylonian and Greco-Roman astronomy and astrology, the Antikythera Mechanism and other artifacts of Hellenistic astronomy, and the scientific work of Claudius Ptolemy.

**1.**

**Natalie Cernecka:** **How did you become interested in history of ancient mathematics and astronomy?**

**Alexander Jones**: During my undergraduate study of Classics at the University of British Columbia, I chanced upon Neugebauer’s Exact Sciences in Antiquity on the shelves of the Mathematics Library. It revealed to me the existence of a field where I might apply a love of mathematics and puzzle-solving to ancient texts, with much more direct engagement with the manuscript sources than most classicists ever have. I was fortunate to be able to study the history of the ancient mathematical sciences in Brown University’s History of Mathematics Department when it was still at its full strength, with Gerald Toomer and David Pingree teaching and Neugebauer and Abe Sachs still strong presences though officially retired. As I came to know the material better, ancient astronomy increasingly attracted me because the sources are so varied and conducive to studying the transformations that take place in connection with transfer of methods. I am deeply interested in the phenomena of transmission not just between geographically distinct cultures but also between different intellectual communities within a culture. Continue reading →