Category Archive 'Antikythera Mechanism'

22 Nov 2011

Hublot Building a Watch With Complications Based on the Antikythera Mechanism

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The Hodinkee blog recently reported that the Hublot watch company of Geneva is building a new ultra complication watch as a tribute to the Antikythera Mechanism.

The finished product, scheduled to be unveiled at a show in Basel next Spring, will combine a watch with the functions recently identified by archaeologists in the Antikythera device.

Past discussions of the Antikythera Mechanism.

Hat tip to Paul Ceruzzi.

19 Dec 2008

Working Model of Antikythera Mechanism

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Found in 1900 by sponge divers off the Greek island of Antikythera on a shipwreck dated to 87 B.C.

Detail of new working model

Michael Wright, former curator of London’s Science Museum has successfully reconstructed the mysterious Antikythera Mechanism, the world’s first known computer.


A dictionary-size assemblage of 37 interlocking dials crafted with the precision and complexity of a 19th-century Swiss clock, the Antikythera mechanism was used for modeling and predicting the movements of the heavenly bodies as well as the dates and locations of upcoming Olympic games.

The original 81 shards of the Antikythera were recovered from under the sea (near the Greek island of Antikythera) in 1902, rusted and clumped together in a nearly indecipherable mass. Scientists dated it to 150 B.C. Such craftsmanship wouldn’t be seen for another 1,000 years — but its purpose was a mystery for decades.

Many scientists have worked since the 1950s to piece together the story, with the help of some very sophisticated imaging technology in recent years, including X-ray and gamma-ray imaging and 3-D computer modeling.

Now, though, it has been rebuilt. As is almost always the way with these things, it was an amateur who cracked it. Michael Wright, a former curator at the Science Museum in London, has built a replica of the Antikythera, which works perfectly.

2:43 video

New Scientist 12 December 2008 article

Earlier Antikythera Mechanism posting

07 Jun 2006

Antikythera Mechanism

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The Antikythera Mechanism was a specialty of a good friend on the Yale faculty, the late Derek de Solla Price, and he often talked about the intriguing questions connected with the object recovered by sponge divers off the Greek Island of Antikythera in 1900, part of shipwreck dated to around 87 B.C. reports that significant new progress has been made in reading the Greek inscriptions on the device.

A team of Greek and British scientists probing the secrets of the Antikythera Mechanism has managed to decipher ancient Greek inscriptions unseen for over 2,000 years, members of the project say.

“Part of the text on the machine, over 1,000 characters, had already been deciphered, but we have succeeded in doubling this total,” said physician Yiannis Bitsakis, part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from universities in Athens, Salonika and Cardiff, the Athens National Archaeological Museum and the Hewlett-Packard company.

“We have now deciphered 95 percent of the text,” he told AFP.

Scooped out of a Roman shipwreck located in 1900 by sponge divers near the southern Greek island of Antikythera, and kept at the Athens National Archaeological Museum, the Mechanism contains over 30 bronze wheels and dials, and is covered in astronomical inscriptions.

Probably operated by crank, it survives in three main pieces and some smaller fragments.

“(The device) could calculate the position of certain stars, at least the Sun and Moon, and perhaps predict astronomical phenomena,” said astrophysicist Xenophon Moussas of Athens University.

“It was probably rare, if not unique,” he added.

The rarity of the Antikythera Mechanism precluded its removal from the museum, so an eight-tonne ‘body scanner’ had to be assembled on-site for the privately-funded project, which used three-dimensional tomography to expose the unseen inscriptions.

The first appraisal of the Mechanism’s purpose was put forward in the 1960s by British science historian Derek Price.


Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

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