The Antikythera Mechanism

While I try to formulate something to say about it, have a look at this thing.

The corroded remains of the Antikythera Mechanism were discovered in the early 20th century in an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. It’s an orrery — a device to simulate and predict the motions of the heavens — that dates back to about 150 BC. This video shows a modern working replica that shows how the device could have been used to predict the positions of the Sun and Moon (and eclipses, which happen when the Moon and Sun are oriented in particular ways with respect to each other), and of the five planets known to the ancient Greeks.

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2 Comments

  1. Tyler said,

    16 December 2008 at 11:08 am

    I was just watching that video, as well as reading an article that tried to place the device in a historical context — who might have built it, for whom and when. We know so frustratingly little about the time.

    Makes me wonder if, in two thousand years, whatever surviving descendants will be able to access our own records.

  2. 22 June 2009 at 10:44 am

    It always surprises me that so many people are shocked to learn the ancients had things like this. People are no smarter on average today than they’ve been for about the last ten thousand years. Thirty by some reckonings, but ten is safe for argument. Our ancestors had eyes and brains. I think Einstein’s words sums up the whole of human endeavour nicely. “If I see further than Newton it is because I am standing on his shoulders.” Perhaps a bit off on the wording, I’m quoting from memory, but the sentiment is there.


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