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Anthemius of Tralles (c. 474 - c. 534) was professor of geometry at Constantinople and architect, with Isidore of Miletus, of Hagia Sophia. Anthemius came from an educated family, his father, Stephanus was a doctor as well as his two brothers, who were also doctors, one brother who was a lawyer and another who was described as a man of learning.

He is known both a mathematician and an architect. As an architect he is best known for replacing the old church of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople in 532. His skills seem also to have extended to engineering for he is said to have been employed to repair flood defences at Daras.

Anthemius had previously written a book on conic sections, excellent preparation for designing the elaborate vaulting of Hagia Sophia. He compiled a survey of mirror configurations in his work on remarkable mechanical devices which was known to certain of the Arab mathematicians such as Al-Haytham.

There are a number of stories told about Anthemius, which we may not be able to ascertain for an indefinite amount of time. Regardless of the veracity, these might be the only clues available as to the character of Anthemius.

Anthemius persecuted a neighbour and rival Zenon by reflecting sunlight into his house. He also produced the impression of an earthquake in Zenon's house by the use of steam led under pressure through pipes connected to a boiler.

Recently Volker Hoffmann and Nikolaos Theocharis claimed that there is a mathematical model behind the Hagia Sophia based on the so-called analemma, a circle inscribed in a square which is inscribed in a circle.

Anthemius of Tralles


  • Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990)
  • T L Heath, A History of Greek Mathematics(2 Vols.) (Oxford, 1921)
  • G L Huxley, Anthemius of Tralles (Cambridge, Mass., 1959).

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