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The Antikythera Mechanism

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So, you might have seen a few news stories lately about the Antikythera mechanism. If you're not familiar with it, it's a 2000-year-old hand-operated device from ancient Greece that is often described as the world's first analogue computer. It was used by the ancient Greeks as a calendar and to predict astronomical events such as eclipses and planetary positions - and even calculate when the Olympic Games should be held. Fascinating stuff, indeed!

A team at UCL recently put together a recreation of  the complex gearing on the front panel (see here) . This was very interesting and especially to the BHI, because we recently published a paper by other Antikythera experts. They have also studied the device. It has long been accepted that the front dial calendar ring shows a 365-day Egyptian civil calendar, but this team makes the case that it is more likely to be a 354-day lunar one.

You can see a video about their work here on the YouTube channel Clickspring. You can also see a blog post by Chris Budiselic, owner of Clickspring and one of the paper authors, here., and if you're interested in reading the paper in full, you'll find it here. 

If you're interested in how watches work, the Antikythera mechanism is bound to fascinate you.



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Yes, thank you for posting, I had read the article on the BBC Science announcement. 


Have placed a couple of posts in the past relating to this incredible mechanism, along with others...

On 16/06/2020 at 15:08, Karrusel said:

Perhaps it all started here...

Discovered on a 2000 year old Greek shipwreck.

The Antikythera Mechanism...

Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, the First Computer | History ...


Giovanni Dondi's Astarium, made between 1348-64 :notworthy:...



Prague's ORLOJ, installed in the Old Town Hall in 1410...

Prague astronomical clock - Wikipedia


Englishman John Harrison built H1 Marine Chronometer, between 1730-35...

H1 - National Maritime Museum


Around 1764 Englishman John Arnold created a repeater ring watch For George III...




1899 Leroy super complication...

10 watches that have made history – FHH Journal

The Fake Rivalry That Created the World's Most Expensive Timepiece ...


Commonly overlooked, J Player (Coventry), Supercomplication in 18k case, delivered to American banker J. P. Morgan...

The Forgotten Most-Complicated-Watch-Ever Made for the Most Famous ... 


1933, the worlds most expensive Supercomplication, Patek Phillipe's Henry Graves...

$24.000.000 Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication ...

Last sold for $24,000,000.


Current record holder with the most complications (57)...

Vacheron Constantin Unveils the World's Most Complicated Watch ...











On 16/06/2020 at 20:26, Karrusel said:

Indeed they did, X Ray tomography.

The Antikythera Mechanism - Ella Alderson - Medium

Still image of fragment A, of the Antikythera Mechanism in "X-Ray ...

It took 2 English academics pursuit in unlocking the riddle this mechanism presented.

Firstly, Derek J. DE Solla Price, who with the assistance of the Greek Atomic Energy Commission, obtained many x ray images in order to proceed...



Further work by academic Michael Wright made further advances in understanding the mechanism's construction, along with constructing a working model...


All done in his garden shed. :biggrin:


Seeing historic timepieces like this, & researching their creation, is what horology is all about...for me!


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  • 2 weeks later...

It's an incredible artifact.

I wonder if the gear wheels were cast first and hand finished or completely created from scratch individually from bronze blanks?

The really mind boggling thing is that this is unlikely to be a 'one off'.

Like some kind of incredibly complex astrolabe, this must be the result of a long carefully thought out evolution and R&D process.

It also seems unlikely one man was responsible for the whole process, which suggests that there must not only be predecessors to it, but also other contemporary examples and descendants of them.

Now ancient Greece wasn't short of talented artisans and creative minds. Not to mention wealthy benefactors to fund lengthy artistic and scientific endeavours!

But why don't we have more evidence of these incredible devices?
It seems unlikely that they were anything less than a total marvel when they were made, so you would think we'd have contemporary sources mentioning them?

Which takes me back to wondering if the gears and parts were first cast to help speed up the process?

If this was in any way some kind of insane 'one off' you have to wonder who could concienve of it and comission/oversee it's manufacture? It's tempting to wonder who had that kind of vision and resources?



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  • 2 weeks later...
On 05/04/2021 at 21:49, Atlantia said:

But why don't we have more evidence of these incredible devices?
It seems unlikely that they were anything less than a total marvel when they were made, so you would think we'd have contemporary sources mentioning them?


I have read a few books on ancient marvels and missing explanations for historical achievements. Once you sift out the Ancient Alien nuts, you get to a some really intriguing and plausible hypotheses. It's clear that there is a whole chunk of our ancient history that is missing when it come to maths, engineering and invention.  There are some astonishing facts if you dig enough ... one of the most amazing are the precisely cut interlocking blocks that are found in the Ancient world, some could not actually be cut with the same accuracy today. Also the mathematical precision of the great Pyramids on the Giza Plateau can not actually be achieved today ... This sounds bizarre but its actually true. Yes we have laser precision to make pyramids that size and out of the same materials , but we simply could not build one like they did now. We do not have the technology. The way they were built using connecting blocks, and with mathematical precision with PI used as a ratio constant in many measurements is not achievable today. The compound errors would soon become exponential as building neared the top third and a geometric pyramid would not be possible , just a slightly wonky one. The accuracy of the measurements in the bottom thirds of the great pyramids is simply not possible for us in 2021. Its interesting that in all of the Egyptian research into the building, there is no mention of how they were designed, just how they were assembled.

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  • 3 months later...

If you own an Android phone there's a working 3D model in the Play Store.

I believe there's a whole lot more info that we don't know about our ancestors that's buried deep in the deserts and oceans.

A vast knowledge database was destroyed in the fire of the Alexandria Library, which probably took thousands of years of knowledge and studying with it.

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