The Antikythera mechanism was discovered inside a shipwreck, 50 meters under water near the Greek Island of Antikythera. This shipwreck was found by a couple of divers in the year 1900 and retrieved numerous items from the wreck, such as statues, pottery, coins, etc. But here came the unique item, “the mechanism”. They were transported to the museum of Archeology in Athens for further analysis. But the funny part is that the mechanism was not noticed for two full years.
The first examination of this item took place on 17 May 1902 by the archaeologist Valerios Stais. When he examined the item he noticed that it had a gear wheel inside of it. Then the item was considered to be prochronistic or ahead of its time. It was too complex to be created in the same year as the other items found inside the ship. The item was left alone until 1951 when the case was re-opened again. Another examination was made and a 70 page paper was published in 1974.
The Origins of the Antikythera mechanism
This item is referred as the first know analogue computer and it is believed that this type of mechanism was invented in the Hellenistic period, used for astronomy and mathematics. It is suggested that the concept for the mechanism may have originated in the colonies of Corinth, since they identified the calendar on the Metonic Spiral as coming from Corinth or one of its colonies in Northwest Greece or Sicily. There are many theories on the creation of this item and where it might have came form, one suggest that its origins are from Rhodes, because at the time it was the center of astronomy and mechanical engineering and home to great astronomers, such as Hipparchus. There is also a study made in 2014 saying that the Babylonian arithmetic style of prediction fits much better with the device’s predictive models than the traditional Greek trigonometric style. The machine dates from around the end of the 2nd century B.C. and is the most sophisticated mechanism known from the ancient world
A study led a 2006 study of the mechanism by a professor from Cardiff University, described the device as “just extraordinary, the only thing of its kind”, and said that its astronomy was “exactly right”.
The item is broken into major peaces, this occured while it was being discovered and later into minor peaces caused from cleaning the item. The true meaning of the item is still unknown, it is most likely used to monitor celestial events, seasons and festivals. The mechanism tracked the lunar calendar, predicted eclipses, and charted the position and phase of the Moon. It also tracked the seasons and ancient festivals like the Olympics.
It also has a so called “instruction manually” that is in Koine Greek which shows the cycles, dials and some of the functions about this unique item. For the end there are many theories about where this item was created, the proper functions of the item and some amazing analyses of the parts and minor functions of it. Overall this is a groundbreaking invention that is ahead of its time. There might be other items that hide mysteries like this one that are lost and might never be found.