The Antikythera Mechanism
Research Project – this is
best current link
More than a hundred years ago an extraordinary mechanism was found by sponge divers at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the whole international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was it an orrery or an astronomical clock? Or something else?
The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical computer designed to calculate astronomical positions. It was recovered in 1900–1901 from the Antikythera wreck. Its significance and complexity were not understood until decades later. Its time of construction is now estimated between 150 and 100 BC. Technological artifacts of similar complexity and workmanship did not reappear until the 14th century, when mechanical astronomical clocks were built in Europe.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau visited the wreck for the last time in 1978, but found no additional remains of the Antikythera mechanism. Professor Michael Edmunds of Cardiff University who led the most recent study of the mechanism said: "This device is just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind. The design is beautiful, the astronomy is exactly right. The way the mechanics are designed just makes your jaw drop. Whoever has done this has done it extremely carefully ... in terms of historic and scarcity value, I have to regard this mechanism as being more valuable than the Mona Lisa."
British historian Derek Price has done extensive research on what the antikythera mechanism may have been used for. It was not until 1959 that Price put forth the theory that the device was used in astronomy to make calculations and predictions. In 1974, Price presented a model of how the antikythera mechanism might have functioned. When past or future dates were entered into the device it calculated the astronomical information related to the Sun, Moon, and other planets.
he Antikythera Mechanism
The complexity of the gears found within the Antikythera Mechanism baffled scientists, since this type of “technology” was not though to have been in existence until around 1575.
This extraordinary astronomical
mechanism from about 100 bc
employed bronze gears to make calculations based on cycles of the Solar System.
Recovered in 1901 by Greek sponge-divers, its corroded remains are now split
into 82 fragments—7 larger fragments (A–G) and 75 smaller
Decoding the Heavens (Jo Marchant)
For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' puzzled academics. It was ancient clockwork, unmatched in complexity for 1000 years - but who could have made it, and what was it for? Now, more than 2000 years after the device was lost at sea, scientists have pieced together its intricate workings and revealed its secrets.
Though it is more than 2,000 years old, the Antikythera Mechanism represents a level that our technology did not match until the 18th century, and must therefore rank as one of the greatest basic mechanical inventions of all time. Arthur C. Clarke