The Antikythera Mechanism

Unsolved mystery.- In the early part of 1900 just before the Religious Easter time holiday, a small sponge or cloth snorkeling boat was found in a severe Med and beyond sea squall off the coast of Portugal. Seeking the safety of tranquil ocean the leader sailed his art to Antikythera, an island between the Greek mainland and Crete. Antikythera Mechanism an Ancient Astrological ComputerOnce on the leeward side of the island the weather had calmed, and they found themselves in gentler seas. The boat was riding in nearly 200 feet of water so the captain thought this would be a prime spot to deep dive for sponges to make up for time and profits lost in moving out of the storm.

At the captains order a young diver suited up in his hardhat helmet and heavy weighted boots and was lowered into the sea. After just a few minutes of exploration on the bottom the diver began to panic and started signaling frantically to come up. Due to the depth of the dive and to avoid nitrogen narcosis, it would be a slow rise to the surface, so the captain asked another diver to suit up and be ready to go back down to harvest valuable sponges. When the first diver finally broke surface he was visibly shaken and excitedly relayed that the sea floor was littered with corpses.

Prepared for the gruesome sight, the other diver stepped into the sling for the descent. Once on the sea floor the diver moved directly toward the spot reported by the first diver. As he moved closer, and to his amazement, the sea floor was littered not with bodies as reported but with art treasures. Before him scattered in the sand and undersea plants lay some of the most finely crafted marble and bronze statues he had ever seen.

Moving further into the artistic debris field, he then discovered the remains of an ancient ship wreck. It was indeed a bountiful day for the crew. Of course even in their attempts to keep it quiet, over time word circulated about their find and others soon joined in on the treasure retrieval. Over the next few years divers retrieved numerous statues and other valuable artifacts from the wreck site. Through the abundant archaeological evidence collected, the ship wreck was determined to be over 2,000 years old, dating back to approximately 80 B.C. The ship was an amazing treasure trove.

Then on May 17th 1902 in 138 feet of water, a diver brought up a crusty lump of what appeared to be a curious looking rock that he had pried from underneath a section of the ship wreck. After a cursory examination, archaeologist Valerios Stais noticed something peculiar embedded in the rock, something that appeared to be man made. The rock proved not to be stone at all but a heavily encrusted and corroded mechanism with clearly visible gears and plates. The diver subsequently brought up two more large pieces and dozens of smaller fragments.

What had been discovered at Antikythera was something quite extraordinary. An ancient and beautifully designed mechanism made of bronze that was once mounted in a wooden frame or case. The mechanism was surprisingly thin and consisted of many intricate gears. While the case and faces of the instrument were crushed by the weight of the wreck and much of the device was preserved through the heavy calcareous encrustation.

The challenge for archaeologists and other scientists was that the encrustations prevented them from fully examining the device. The ship itself was of Roman origin, but the strange mechanism was (with certainty) determined to have been made in Greece. One popular hypothesis is that the Antikythera mechanism was constructed at an ancient Greek academy founded by the Stoic philosopher Posidonius on the island of Rhodes. In that time period Rhodes was known as the center of astronomy and mechanical engineering. Through additional research, the scientists theorized that the ill fated Roman ship was carrying the device and other treasures which had been looted from the island, back to Rome.

Antikythera computer illustrationFast forward to 1971 when modern gamma ray technology was used to look inside the encrusted metal mass. Once again, some very startling information was revealed. The Antikythera Mechanism consisted of more than 30 precision made gears (some scientists suggest that the complete mechanism originally had over 70 gears.) The precision construction, level of miniaturization, and complexity are incredible even by today’s standards. It is also inscribed with more than 2,000 legible characters, many of which have been deciphered, providing additional clues to the mechanisms use.

The Antikythera Mechanism’s primary purpose proved to be quite remarkable and startling to modern science. The device is a 2,100 year old analog astrological computer capable of accurately calculating the positions of the sun, the moon, the stars and other planets. Depending on the dates entered into the mechanism it is capable of calculating astrological information for the past, the present, or the future. It is apparent that dates were entered into the Antikythera Mechanism by using a lever or dial that is unfortunately now missing from the device.

The Antikythera Mechanism is a remarkably precise and accurate computational device even by today’s advanced technology standards. Science is still conducting extensive research and theoretical speculation on this device in hopes of further discovering its exact purpose and quite possibly its ancient inventor.

The Antikythera Mechanism is on display at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens Greece. A replica is on display in the United States at the American Computer Museum in Bozeman Montana. 

Read More Other Unsolved Mysteries article!

Posted in . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post.

Leave a Reply

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Swedish Greys - a WordPress theme from Nordic Themepark. Converted by