euboea island


pi—the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle.

Calculation of pi:  Archimedes around 250 B.C.E. gave the first recorded algorithm for rigorously calculating the value of the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of a circle, but he didn’t use the letter pi.  Archimedes’ method was tocompute successive upper and lower bounds of the number by drawing successivelycomplex polygons inside and outside a circle. 

Computation of pi took a step forward when methods for using infinite series to compute it.  Here for instance is Gottfried Leibniz’ simple infinite series that converges closer and closer to π.

Use of “π” as the symbol for the ratio:  The earliest known use of the Greek letter π to represent the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter was by mathematician William Jones in 1706, but didn’t come into wide use until Euler started using it 1736. 

Origin of the Greek Letter pi:  The Greek letter pi (π) was adopted from the letter peh of the Phoenician alphabet.  The earliest examples of the Greek alphabet surprisingly come from Italy.  This came about because of a close trading connection between the Greek island of Euboea and the Phoencians from what is today Lebanon.  The two founded trading centers in the Mediterranean including the western coast of Italy.  It is here that we have the first evidence of the adoption of the Phoenician alphabet for use in writing the Greek language.  The first examples of Greek letters are fragments of Homer’s Iliad and Odessy as if the phonetic alphabet was being used to record and memorize the stories that had previously been orally transmitted by travelling singers. 


Extremely Rare Roman Gold Chalcis Inscribed Ring, 3rd Century AD

Inscribed with intaglio text: ‘ΧΑΛΚΙΔΙ’ “(from the town) of Chalcis”

Chalcis or Chalkida is the main town of the island of Euboea, Greece. The town is mentioned in the Iliad (2.537) and was used by Antiochus III of Syria (192 BC) and Mithradates VI of Pontus (88 BC) as a base for their invasions of Greece. It was a commercial center under Roman rule.

Armor, ca. 1400 and later
Steel, brass, textile
H. 66 ½ in. (168.9 cm)

This armor was restored and assembled into its present form in about 1920. It is composed mostly of pieces from a unique hoard of armor discovered in 1840 in the ruins of a Venetian fortress at Chalcis (Khalkis) on the Greek island of Euboea (Evvoia).

The velvet covering on this brigandine was added during restoration of the armor. The helmet, a type known as a visored bascinet, was not part of the Chalcis find, but dates from about the same period.