The Antikythera Mechanism

The Guardian’s James Randerson has a satisfyingly link-full update on the research into the Antikythera Mechanism – as previously noted here and also here. Apparently it’s older than previously thought. Possibly from around the time of Archimedes.. And here’s part 1 of a fascinating Nature video on the 2000-year-old “box of intricate gearwork”. Part 2 below the fold along with a stunning animation of the mechanism by Massimo Mogi Vicentini of the Civico Planetario di Milano.

Part 2 of the Nature video.

From James Randerson

The new data concerns the four-year Olympiad dial, which has the names of significant Greek games etched into it – Isthmia, Olympia, Nemea, Pythia and Naa (plus one other that hasn’t been deciphered). The first four were major games known throughout the ancient world, but the Naa games, held near Dodona in northwest Greece, were a much more provincial affair that would only have been of local interest. “One possibility is that it was made by or for somebody in Naa,” said Marchant, who described the clockwork computer on the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast last year.

This also helps to pin down the date because the Romans took over that region in the 2nd century BC. A Greek-inscribed gadget like this, reasons Jones, would not have been made after the Romans took charge.

Hmm.. possibly Archimedes after all, then?

And here’s a stunning animation of the mechanism by Massimo Mogi Vicentini of the Civico Planetario di Milano. More animations here.