Antikyra Mechanism Discovered In 1900s

In 1900, Greek sponge divers discovered the Antikyra mechanism in an ancient ship lying in the waters of An-tikythera, a small island between Crete and the Greek mainland. After much work and a second visit to the site later the same year, the divers managed to recover several bronze and marble statues from the wreck. These were taken to the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

Antikyra Mechanism

Impressed by the quality and quantity of the statues, researchers paid little attention to a few chunks of corroded bronze among the finds. When finally examined in May 1902 by the archaeologist Spyridon Stais, the latter discovered that the clumps contained intricate cogs and wheels. A discussion immediately arose as to what this Antikyra mechanism represented. One thought was that it could have been an astrolabe, used for measuring the angle between celestial bodies and the horizon. Only one thing seemed certain: based on inscriptions found on the mechanism’s case, it was determined that it was around 80 BC. was made.

The Antikyra mechanism, as it was called, remained a mystery until 1958, when British scholar Dr. Derek explained]. de Solla Price that the device was a precursor to our modern computer. ‘It seems that this was indeed a calculator that could work out and display the motions of the sun, moon, and probably the planets,’ he wrote in 1962. Price was astonished by the piece: ‘Nothing resembling this instrument has survived elsewhere. ,’ he wrote. “Nothing comparable to it is known from any ancient scientific text or literary reference. On the contrary, from all we know about science and technology in the Hellenistic age, we would believe that such a device could not exist.”

The Antikyra mechanism consists of dials encased in a wooden box containing at least twenty cogwheels, plus an amazing system of differential cogwheels. These had never been found before in late-16th-century clocks. In 1971, X-rays showed a complete collection of wheels inside the machine that was even more intricate than the oldest known timepieces. The finesse of the device led Price to declare in 1959, “Finding something like this is like finding a fighter jet in King Tutankhamun’s tomb.”

Although the Antikyra mechanism has been described as “one of the greatest fundamental mechanical inventions of all time,” most modern Arnericans are unaware of its existence. Even those who are have never taken it as proof that someone of technological superiority may have visited Earth nearly 2,000 years ago. The learned and celebrated science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke admitted, “Watching this extraordinary relic is a most disturbing experience.” However, Clarke cannot allow himself to see this as evidence of alien visitation and instead commented: ” We can rest assured that the Antikythera computer is the product of human ability; but if there’s one place where one might expect to find crashed spaceships or other alien artifacts, it’s in the oceans that cover three quarters of our Earth.’ Clarke may have refuted his own position when he wrote: ‘Had the insight of the Greeks been as great as their ingenuity, the Industrial Revolution would have begun a thousand years before Columbus. Then we wouldn’t be just scurrying around the moon by this time; then we could have reached the stars.’ Since man has not yet reached the stars,

Want Your Free

Project Bluebook?