"Hyperides was saved by Archimedes," Noel says.

"If his speech wasn't bound up with a text by Archimedes, this project would never have attracted all the scientists who donated their time. We'd never have gone looking for him. He'd still be lost to us today."

After "Lost and Found" closes on Jan. 1, the palimpsest will be returned to its owner. But the scholarship will go on. The 174 sheaves have all been digitally imaged, and they are available online to anyone who wants to look at them.

One day, someone may identify the authors of two other texts contained in the palimpsest.

And that possibility of future discoveries may be the most important legacy of the 12-year-long project.

As Noel puts it: "We've taken something expensive, fragile, inaccessible and unknown and made it available for free to anyone from their desktop."

mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

If you go

"Lost & Found: The Secrets of Archimedes" opens Sunday and runs through Jan. 1 at the Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St. Tickets cost $6-$10. Call 410-547-9000 or go to thewalters.org.

  • Text NIGHTLIFE to 70701 to sign up for Baltimore Sun nightlife and music text alerts