What is the two-millennia-old Antikythera Mechanism? 1 of 2: Alexander Jones, NYU.

Oct 20, 2018, 12:00 AM


(Photo:The Antikythera mechanism (Fragment A – front); visible is the largest gear in the mechanism, approximately 14 centimetres (5.5 in) in diameter

No machine-readable author provided. Marsyas assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).

Main w:en:Antikythera mechanism fragment (fragment A). The mechanism consists of a complex system of 30 wheels and plates with inscriptions relating to signs of the zodiac, months, eclipses and pan-Hellenic games. The study of the fragments suggests that this was a kind of astrolabe. The interpretation now generally accepted dates back to studies by Professor w:en:Derek de Solla Price, who was the first to suggest that the mechanism is a machine to calculate the solar and lunar calendar, that is to say, an ingenious machine to determine the time based on the movements of the sun and moon, their relationship (eclipses) and the movements of other stars and planets known at that time. Later research by the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project and scholar Michael Wright has added to and improved upon Price's work. The mechanism was probably built by a mechanical engineer of the school of Posidonius in Rhodes. Cicero, who visited the island in 79/78 B.C. reported that such devices were indeed designed by the Stoic philosopher Posidonius of Apamea. The design of the Antikythera mechanism appears to follow the tradition of Archimedes' planetarium, and may be related to sundials. His modus operandi is based on the use of gears. The machine is dated around 89 B.C. and comes from the wreck found off the island of Antikythera. National Archaeological Museum, Athens, No. 15987.

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File:NAMA Machine d'Anticythère 1.jpg

Created: 20 December 2005 )



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What is the two-millennia-old Antikythera Mechanism? 1 of 2: Alexander Jones, NYU.


“…After more than a decade's efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text — a quarter of the original — in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains. They say it was a kind of philosopher's guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world's oldest mechanical computer. "Now we have texts that you can actually read as ancient Greek, what we had before was like something on the radio with a lot of static," said team member Alexander Jones, a professor of the history of ancient science at New York University. "It's a lot of detail for us because it comes from a period from which we know very little about Greek astronomy and essentially nothing about the technology, except what we gather from here," he said. "So these very small texts are a very big thing for us."