In 1401, a young man named Michael of Rhodes entered Venetian service as a humble galley oarsman. Over the next four decades, he rose to the highest positions a non-noble could hold in the Venetian navy. In 1434, this remarkable man sat down to write a manuscript representing the essential knowledge he possessed as a master mariner, including mathematics, numerous calendars, wonderful astrological illustrations, some of the earliest extant navigational portolans, and the earliest known European treatise on shipbuilding.
Lost for more than 400 years, Michaelís manuscript finally resurfaced in the year 2000, when it was made available to the Dibner Institute for study.
On December 1-3, 2005, the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology will host the first public conference about Michael of Rhodes. The Dibner Institute is located on the MIT campus (E56-100) in Cambridge, MA. Registration is free but, as space is limited, please RSVP to Dawn Davis Loring at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot at the conference.
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