Perhaps the world’s oldest puzzle, this mathematical challenge was
developed over 2200 years ago by Greek mathematician Archimedes. The Archimedes Square stomachion puzzle consists of 14 polygons of varying sizes and shapes. Much like a traditional tangram, you can solve the challenge or create your own designs.
In November 2003, Bill Cutler calculated 536 possible distinct arrangements of the pieces into a square using a computer program, where solutions that are equivalent by rotation and reflection are considered identical (Pegg, E. Jr. “Math Games: The Loculus of Archimedes, Solved.” Nov. 17, 2003.
Watch a TED talk by Walters Art Museum curator William Noel about the discovery of the Archimedes palimpset codex that describes the stomachion puzzle.
For further reading, here are a few recommended resources:
- Archimedes and Combinatorics
- NOVA Special on PBS
- The Archimedes Codex
- Archimedes and the Door of Science
- Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes