Antikythera mechanism mystery solved

NEWS Tuesday, 23 March, 2021



Researchers from the Cyprus Institute and University College London have released a new paper which contains a crucial revelation on the purpose of the legendary Antikythera mechanism.

The paper explains that there are many missing components to the Antikythera Mechanism and that can indeed hint at a great number of options for the creation of any particular mode and thus leads to a certain degree of ambiguity as to how the original device may have operated. However, the team is reassured in the accuracy of their assertions and findings by the fact that a very small set of these options can actually be implemented. In other words, the device’s mechanical restrictions and limitations narrow the field for solutions in its reconstruction.

The Antikythera mechanism is regarded by many as the first analogue computer in history and was used by ancient Greeks as a manually-powered orrery, allowing them to map out the solar system and make certain calculations and predictions, including astronomical positions and eclipses. The device is made out of bronze and contains a complicated meshing of at least 30 gears (this is the number that has survived through time) and could even be used to find the dates of future Olympic games.

Named after the Greek island of Antikythera due to it being retrieved near its coast, the Antikythera mechanism has yet to be accurately dated, with scientists placing it at various dates from 60BC to 205BC. It remained lost for roughly 2,000 years until a crew of Greek sponge divers stumbled on the wreckage in 1900. The mechanism was finally plucked out of the depths of the Mediterranean a year later.