On Archimedes' Cattle Problem

by Umberto Bartocci and Maria Cristina Vipera


This is a short presentation of the paper which is available in Italian at:


(a Microsoft Word version can be obtained at:


- - - - -


It is well known that the solution of the so-called "Archimedes' cattle problem" was quite exceeding the possibility of Greek mathematics, and so its interpretation remains an unsolved important historical puzzle.

Refusing the hypothesis that it was just a joke, to confuse other mathematicians, we conjecture that the true original problem was rather different, but not too much, from the one which arrived to us by means of Methrodorus.

In this paper we try to guess which was the presumable primitive statement, and we prove, among other things, that there exists a version quite acceptable of Archimedes' question (firstly put forward by K.G. Calkins*) whose solution does not require any "advanced" tool.

* http://www.andrews.edu/~calkins/profess/cattle.htm